Dr. Harris awarded NSF RAPID to rescue Saint Louis University’s frozen tissue collection and house at UA Ichthyological Collection

Saint Louis University Museum’s Genetic Resources & Collections (GRC) amassed a collection of approximately 63,000 catalogued and vouched specimens or tissues from over 6,600 species of freshwater and marine fishes since its beginning in 1983. The GRC contains important temporal samples, extensive within-species geographic sampling for North American taxa, a broad taxonomic sampling of freshwater fishes from Asia, with an emphasis on SE Asia, and many globally distributed marine species. Many of these specimens were collected with funding from NSF during Tree of Life and Planetary Biotic Inventory projects. On May 25, 2017, Macelwane Hall, home to the Museum and GRC, experienced a fire that caused extensive structural, water, and soot damage throughout the building. Following this incident, Saint Louis University determined that it would no longer support or maintain either the museum or the GRC. Thus, without rescue this extremely valuable collection would otherwise be lost to the global scientific community. The goal of this project is to transfer the GRC to The University of Alabama Ichthyological Collection (UAIC), which is curated by Dr. Phil Harris. Transferring this collection into UAIC will ensure long-term curation of this collection, as well as providing access to the specimens through our web portal (specifyweb.as.ua.edu) or from our four distributed information project partners (GBIF, FishNet2, VertNet, and iDigBio Hub). Student research opportunities in molecular systematics, population and conservation genetics, genomics, and transcriptomics will be enhanced due to the taxonomic diversity and global distribution of specimens and tissues contained in this invaluable collection.