Biodiversity Information Science and Standards : Conference Abstract
Conference Abstract
Jar-by-Jar: Curation Improvements to the Herpetology Collection at CUMNH
expand article info Emily Braker
‡ Vertebrate Collections Manager, University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, Boulder, United States of America
Open Access


The University of Colorado Museum of Natural History (CUMNH) Herpetology Collection is comprised of over 65,000 fluid-preserved specimens representing over 2,500 taxa from more than 70 countries. Despite its active use, a history of irregular topping up schedules and a decades-long dearth in rehousing projects due to budgetary constraints left the collection in substandard conditions. A 2015 survey of roughly 10% of the collection revealed average ethanol concentrations far below desired levels, with only 15% of specimen jars surveyed containing optimal preservative strengths of 70% (+/- 2.5%). In Fall 2017, CUMNH secured an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant to holistically address shortcomings in the micro- and macro-storage environments within the Herpetology Collection. Program activities include jar-by-jar ethanol remediation using a digital density meter and a topping up algorithm proposed by Notton 2010, collection-wide replacement of faulty jars and lids, and installation of new static and mobile compactor shelving. Updates to nomenclature and a full specimen inventory including condition and location tracking in Arctos also fall within the project scope. This talk will cover progress thus far, our approaches to moving a collection in place, and systematic remedial topping up as a valuable counterpart to routine monitoring in fluid collections.


Herpetology, Fluid Collections, Curation, Topping Up, IMLS

Presenting author

Emily Braker


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