Museum materials are available for loan to researchers and requests should be made to the Collection Manager (essig.museum[at]gmail.com). We loan determined and undetermined specimens and are generally happy to negotiate exchanges of specimens for specialists’ assistance in identifying material. Our polices basically reflect those given by Arnett, Samuelson, and Nishida (1997).
Loans are typically made on a two-year, renewable upon request, basis. Specimens for student research are loaned through the student’s advisor. Any destructive study of loaned specimens must be negotiated in advance. Holotypes selected from loaned material must be returned to the Essig Museum. The proper coden for the Essig Museum to be used in publications is EMEC, and copies of papers citing our specimens should be sent to the museum.
Please see our species and specimen databases for available material.
The recipient must agree to:
- Place his/her determination labels on each specimen.
- Send to the EMEC a copy/link of any paper based in whole or in part upon these specimens.
- Return all specimens of all species unless otherwise authorized.
- Not dissect or otherwise permanently alter specimens unless authorized.
Dissections are allowed only with prior consent of the Collections Manager. Lepidoptera genitalia are typically mounted on microscope slides following the methods outlined in Robinson 1976 [“The preparation of slide of Lepidoptera genitalia with special reference to Microlepidoptera.” Entomologist’s Gazette 27: 127-132]. Genitalia of other taxa are typically preserved with glycerin in microvials mounted with the specimen. Scanning Electron Microscopy typically requires mounting specimen parts on stubs with or without sputter coating. All preparations should be returned unless otherwise authorized. Requests for permission to dissect specimens should include qualifications and methods.
DNA extractions are allowed only with prior consent of the Collections Manager. Museum specimens have degraded DNA and may require “ancient DNA” techniques. For most specimens, there is no recorded history of how specimens were killed and dried, frozen-thawed, or whether they were “rehydrated” before mounting. Prior to recent years, fluid specimens were typically preserved in 70% ethyl alcohol. Researchers must have proven experience and resources to successfully extract and sequence DNA from museum specimens before permission will be granted. An aliquot of each extraction should be returned unless other arrangements have been made.
Please be prepared to answer the following questions:
- What is the purpose/goal of the study?
- Why is it necessary to use museum specimens versus freshly collected specimens (that are likely to provide greater DNA yield)?
- What experience do you have with extracting DNA from museum specimens? What protocols will be used? What loci sequenced?
- What facilities are available for extracting/sequencing DNA from museum specimens?