As Curator, I am responsible for the care and use of the research collection in the Herpetology Unit at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. This invaluable resource, established in the late 1800s, contains approximately 300,000 preserved scientific specimens (>90,000 catalog numbers) and approximately 6,000 vouchered tissues of amphibians and reptiles from around the world. The collection has exceptionally strong holdings from North Carolina (>80% of the collection) and the Southeast U.S., with additionally strong holdings from Southeast Asia and Central Africa. The collection has an immeasurable number of uses, but primarily serves to document geographic ranges, past and present; to identify and describe species; and to infer the natural history of species, for example, their diet, reproduction, and growth rates. We regularly host visitors and loan material to researchers who have a need to study the collection. I view a good curator to be one who achieves the balance between the long-term preservation of the collection and its use by the community.

Our current primary activities in the Herpetology Unit include assimilation of two recent collection acquisitions from the Charleston Museum and Appalachian State University; improvements to the genetic resources collection, especially taxonomic and geographic sampling from North Carolina; and efforts to complete the georeferencing and databasing of the entire collection.

Able to help? Become a Citizen Science Curator and transform written specimen records into digital format for upload into our database through the museum’s CitSciScribe project!

Want to learn more? Search the holdings of the herpetology research collection through our online database, or read about the history of the collection here.

Copperheads and more in the Herpetology Unit’s preserved research collection. ©Bryan L. Stuart
View down the central aisle of the Herpetology Unit’s preserved research collection. ©Bryan L. Stuart
The Herpetology Unit’s -80ºC ultra-cold freezer housing tissues. ©Bryan L. Stuart

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