This project will fund replacement of damaged and deteriorated cabinets for mammals in the Oklahoma State University Collection of Vertebrates (OSU COV). Purchase of new cabinets will allow the PI to move more than 13,250 specimens of mammals, representing 26 of 29 extant orders, into a single location. Specimens have heretofore been stored in three different locations in six different designs of cabinets, ranging from modern steel cases to secretarial supply cabinets and cabinets hand made by Curator Emeritus Bryan P. Glass and his students during 1940-1950s. Not only have specimens been inadequately protected, but the diversity of cabinet designs and dimensions results in inefficient use of newly renovated space allocated to COV in 2009. New cabinets will alleviate currently poor storage conditions, improve use of newly renovated space, and allow thoughtful and steady expansion for research and teaching. Osteological material will be housed in dust-free cabinets, and fragile tanned hides will be moved into custom cabinets similar to those for large, fragile textiles. This project also facilitates reorganization of specimens to reflect current taxonomy. The resulting improvements in storage conditions and organization will facilitate collaborations with Art Department programs at OSU, increase accessibility to the public of northern Oklahoma, and enhance collaboration with K-12 programs in the Colleges of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology and Education. The PI will offer a multidisciplinary course in curatorial practices supported by this award. In addition to students enrolled in the course, the project will provide direct support to one doctoral and three undergraduate students and will supplement existing practicum experiences for approximately five undergraduates per semester.
The OSU Collection of Vertebrates (OSU COV) holds more than 13,250 specimens representing 26 of the 29 orders of modern mammals from every continent except Antarctica with an especially strong collection from Ethiopia. Some specimens are more than 100 years old. Specimens are the basis for research on habitat and climate change, genetic and evolutionary relationships, impacts of environmental contamination, morphology, and ecology. They also are part of outreach activities with K-12 school groups and other public organizations. Specimens had been stored in 3 locations in a variety of cabinets and boxes including ones hand made by Curator Emeritus Bryan P. Glass and his students during the 1950s. New cabinets made possible by this NSF grant have alleviated poor storage conditions and improved use of the collections. Large osteological material is stored in dust-free cabinets and fragile tanned skins are in custom cabinets similar to those for large textiles. These improvements ensure protection of irreplaceable specimens, consolidation of specimens in 1 location, increased accessibility for researchers, OSU students, and the public. Specimens are now all stored in dust-proof, lightproof, insect-proof cabinets rather than on open shelving. Especially large specimens (e.g., Giant Armadillo) have been placed in custom-sized drawers rather than stored on top of old cabinets wrapped in plastic trash bags. Systematic revisions since the 1980s are reflected in installation order of specimens and resulting changes in nomenclature has been updated on tags. Additionally, specimens that consisted of both skins and skeletal material that had been mismatched or thought lost for decades have been found and re-associated. This grant has allowed COV personnel to lay the foundation for greatly enhanced long-term management of the mammals collection. Visibility for the Collections as a result of this NSF grant also has aided in establishment of two endowments for the collections, one focused on supporting student research in the Collections, and the second focused on providing support for conservation of specimens. This grant provided support for two graduate students and four undergraduate students and provided an avenue for collections-based research experience nine undergraduates and 2 graduates. Finally, a new course, ZOOL 3700/5020 Practicum in Natural History Collections, was developed and taught for the first time as an outgrowth of this grant.