ASU Natural History Collections

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The Natural History Collections of Arizona State University are available both to researchers visiting the various collections and via loans to recognized institutions. In each case, certain policies and regulations apply.

Loans to Recognized Institutions

The Natural History Collections of Arizona State University are available for study by all qualified visitors. Requests for loans will be considered from recognized institutions; loans are not made to individuals. Requests are screened by the managers and/or curators of the respective collections. For most of the collections, information on holdings and label data may be found online at

Loans are made without charge or service fee; it is expected that the borrowing institution will pay the costs of return shipment. If possible, loans should be mailed back at the same shipping rate they were sent. Thus, if a loan was sent FedEx, it should be returned FedEx, or equivalent.

Researchers visiting the Collections

  • Researchers visiting the Collections are requested to make arrangements prior to their visit, preferably a minimum 24 hours notice. Because of the possibility of the introduction of insect pests to the Vascular Plant and Lichen Herbaria, no dried plant material may be brought into the herbarium without prior treatment (fumigation or freezing). Individuals wishing to bring in material for comparison should make arrangements for treating the material well in advance of the visit.
  • The curatorial staff of the Collections will assist visitors with an introduction to the collections. Study/work areas and microscopes are available for short-term use.
  • Material samples (e.g., pollen, leaves, tissues) must not be removed from Collection specimens without prior written consent; authorization forms for destructive sampling of any kind may be obtained from any member of the curatorial staff. As indicated, any specimen from which material is removed must be annotated with the appropriate information. Dissections or loose fragments should be put into packets attached to the specimen sheets or containers (available from staff members).
  • Annotations should be written legibly in permanent black ink on annotation labels. Labels and pens are available from staff members. Whenever possible, the annotation should include the generic name and specific epithet, authority, annotator's name (not initials only), and the date. For type specimens, we ask that the basionym and place of publication be indicated. Annotation labels should be attached so that they do not cover any printing, writing or material on the sheet or specimen container(s). All annotated specimens should be left for members of the staff to process and return to the appropriate collection.


The Natural History Collections of ASU are maintained with the goal of balancing preservation of the integrity of animal, plant, and fossil specimens with utilization for scientific research. While every effort will be made to accommodate researchers, decisions concerning destructive sampling are made on a case-by-case basis.

As a rule, no material may be removed from specimens without prior consent of the director or an appropriate member of the curatorial staff.

Permission for removal of material, when given, is contingent upon adherence to the following guidelines:

  1. Leaf material, pollen, spores, fungal tissue, tissue fragments, etc. may be removed from specimens only when there is adequate material available. Care must be taken not to damage the scientific value of the specimen.
  2. Material may not be removed from type collections, from historical specimens, or from taxa represented in the various collections by less than 3 collections, except in rare instances, and then only by an appropriate staff member.
  3. Each specimen must be annotated indicating the material removed, the nature of the study, the researcher's name and institutional affiliation, the date and the identification of the specimen accepted by the researcher.
  4. The recipient shall acknowledge the appropriate collection (e.g., Vascular Plant Herbarium) within the Natural History Collections of ASU, as supplier, in all written or electronic reports or publications resulting from their use of materials from the Collections, and shall provide a copy of all such publications and reports with ASU.
  5. Material may not be removed from a specimen for a second time, if the nature of the study is the same.
  6. Depending on the nature of the study, the researcher must return to the Natural History Collections of ASU a duplicate permanent pollen, anatomical or leaf slide, an SEM photograph, etc. Such material will be housed with like material in the Collections, cross-referenced to the specimen from which it was removed, and made accessible to other researchers as requested.
  7. Requests for removal of material for molecular systematic or phylogenetic studies will be reviewed by the appropriate collections staff. Requests should include an estimate of the amount of material needed. Results (both positive and negative) must be reported in writing, preferably on an annotation label to be attached to the specimen; specimens must be annotated with the identification of the specimen accepted by the researcher as well as with the nature of the study; and GenBank or other database accession numbers for each of the generated molecular sequences must be included. Samples obtained in this way must be properly stored and curated and made available to others for further study. The researcher must provide the Natural History Collections of ASU with the location and storage method of any remaining sample. The storage facility must be permanent. The Natural History Collections of ASU reserves the right to request DNA or sequence material originally obtained from ASU specimens.
  8. For large or complicated requests for material for DNA extractions or other studies, researchers will be encouraged to come to Arizona State University, using their own funds, to select specimens from the collections for sampling themselves. Although specimens may be selected by the researcher, removal of material will be made with supervision and approval of the appropriate staff. Not only does this reduce the work required of the curatorial staff, but it allows the investigator to make more precise selections based on specimen age, material in packets, etc., and verify the identity of specimens being sampled.
  9. The Natural History Collections of ASU maintain no records on the history of specimen collection or treatment methods; the Natural History Collections of ASU makes no representation or warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, as to the identity, safety, or merchantability for any particular purpose of the material, or as to the accuracy or reliability of the any data supplied.


The Arizona State University Mollusk Collection (ASUMOC) is curated by volunteer and avid shell enthusiast, Dale Snyder. It consists of approximately 140,000 shell specimens, and includes members from five of the seven classes of the phylum Mollusca.
Mammalogy Collection
The Mammalogy Collection (ASUMAC) contains approximately 9,300 specimens representing more than 160 species, with a geographic concentration in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. The research collection represents the second-largest mammal collection in Arizona.
Ornithology Collection
The Ornithology Collection (ASUORC) at the ASU Natural History Collections contains approximately 2,000 specimens representing more than 300 species, with a geographic concentration in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, with some Neotropical representation as well.
Herpetology Collection
The Herpetology Collection (ASUHEC) contains approximately 38,000 specimens representing more than 900 species, with a geographic concentration in the western United States and northwestern Mexico.
Ichthyology Collection
The Ichthyology Collection (ASUFIC) contains approximately 22,000 lots representing more than 580 species, with a geographic concentration in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.
Coal Balls
The Fossil Plant Collection (ASUPC) is a unique resource for the ASU Natural History community, supporting plant evolutionary research, teaching, and public outreach.
The Hasbrouck Insect Collection (ASUHIC) is a vibrant part of the ASU Natural History Collections community, with a diverse array of insect research, learning, and outreach activities.
The ASU Lichen Herbarium (ASU) is among the ten largest collections of lichenized fungi in the US; it contains some 115,000 specimens. The collection has a particularly strong focus on the Greater Sonoran Desert Region [northwestern Mexico: Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora, western Chihuahua and northern Sinaloa; and southwestern USA, Arizona, southern California].
The Arizona State University Vascular Plant Herbarium (ASU) is among the most important in the greater Sonoran Desert region with over 315,000 specimens. We are particularly proud of our holdings of Cactaceae which include over 1,100 chromosome counts.