University of Alaska Museum Bird Collection

Destructive Sampling of Specimens

Frozen bird tissues for genetics research are part of the museum’s Genomic Resources Collection. These materials and our traditional collections of skins and skeletons are growing resources that preserve samples of avian diversity for present and future researchers. With technological developments, new uses for these specimens have added to their scientific value. For example, analyses of the stable isotope ratios present in tissues are providing important information on ecological and environmental processes, often on a very broad, biosphere scale. Museum collections contain historic material unavailable elsewhere, enabling retrospective studies of changes through time.

Most specimens added to this collection come from externally-funded projects of the University of Alaska Museum. But the collection is also an important archival repository for specimens from researchers, from contributing members of the public, and from State and Federal agencies. We encourage the use of this collection as a repository to prevent specimen loss to the scientific community. Use of this collection by the research community is also encouraged. We also encourage users of this resource to become contributors: specimen documentation of today’s avifauna is urgently needed, and is not going to happen by accident.

We do not allow sampling of whole flight feathers from wings or tails, and we encourage researchers to use protocols that require only body feathers in small numbers whenever possible. We are most supportive of requests when we know that sample destruction has a high likelihood of yielding important scientific information. Please be sure to rigorously test your techniques on other material before requesting some from us.

Requests for pieces of specimens will be reviewed by the Curator and the Collections Manager. Because an approved request means permanent loss of specimen material, we consider these to be grants, rather than loans.

Grant Policies & Procedures

Researchers desiring pieces of skins, skeletons, or frozen tissues should first send an inquiry to learn whether the collection contains any of the samples they need (not all specimens are on our database yet). Initial inquiries should be sent to the Curator. Subsequently, a formal request may be made to use any available samples. The formal request should be written on institutional letterhead (or in a formal email) and addressed to the Curator. These requests should include:

1. The goals, methods, and expected timeframe of the proposed project.

2. Some indication of your abilities to conduct the research proposed (e.g., proposed procedures are regularly performed in your lab).

3. The total number of samples expected to be used in the project and the sources of these samples (e.g., other collections), including clear indication of the proportion of samples to be collected by you as the researcher and the proportion expected to come from the UAM Bird Collection.

4. Indication of whether our costs in providing this service will be reimbursed. At present it costs roughly $50-200 to collect and process each sample. Although we anticipate that most requests will be granted with a waiver of our incurred costs, we reserve the right to make appropriate charges when necessary, and we encourage all researchers to include in their proposals reimbursement costs for the service of providing sample grants.

5. Requests involving the use of samples for applied purposes with the possibility of profit must make this clear. In such cases special arrangements for compensation must be made with the University of Alaska and/or other parties if foreign samples are involved. Such use can violate the conditions under which some foreign samples are collected.

Students should submit requests in a letter cosigned by their advisor (or with an independent confirming email), who assumes responsibility for proper use of the samples. This formal submission and any modifications outlined in the letter granting the request constitute a contract between the researcher(s) and UAM.

Grant Requirements

1. Samples or their derivatives cannot be given to or used by other researchers without the express written consent of the UAM Curator of Birds.

2. Use must be restricted to the project(s) initially outlined in the formal request. Changing the project in any way may infringe upon someone else's research being conducted on the same specimen, as may expansion of the project to address other questions.

3. Unused portions of samples should be returned.

4. When appropriate, citation of samples by UAM number should occur in any report or publication using these samples or data generated therefrom.

5. Researchers must acknowledge the University of Alaska Museum Bird Collection in any reports or publications using these samples or data generated therefrom. Other acknowledgments may also be appropriate (e.g., collectors, researchers, or granting agencies responsible for sample acquisition); this may be outlined in the award letter.

6. A copy of any report or publication in which these samples (or their associated data) are used should be sent to the UAM Curator of Birds.

7. We wish to see a commitment to archive the data in a public archive, e.g., GenBank, Dryad, or other recognized repository.

8. Requester is responsible for obtaining any permits necessary for the grant to occur (e.g., USDA-APHIS, USFWS import-export, CITES).

9. Requester is responsible for bearing any shipping costs beyond those of first class postage.

Direct initial inquiries and grant requests to:

Kevin Winker
Curator of Birds
University of Alaska Museum
907 Yukon Drive
Fairbanks, AK 99775-6960

The Bird Collection at the University of Alaska Museum
Last modified 1 July 2013 by Kevin Winker