The Invertebrate collections date from the mid-1800s and include samples of many different groups of animals.

The Invertebrate Collections contain the largest number of specimens in the museum. They can be broadly divided into Insects (Entomology) and Marine Invertebrates (including sponges, jellyfish, shrimps, crabs, worms, bivalves, gastropods, octopuses, and sea urchins). In addition there are discrete collections of other terrestrial forms (e.g. spiders and millipedes) and freshwater invertebrates (e.g. snails). The collections are separated into wet preserved specimens, dried specimens and models, and microscope slides.

Marine Invertebrates

We house several historically significant collections and in recent years we have acquired a number of large and scientifically important collections of marine invertebrates through collaboration with a variety of institutions with an emphasis on retaining samples from British waters.

There are now nearly four million specimens of marine invertebrates in the collection, which form an invaluable resource for the research of British marine fauna, especially the North Atlantic deep sea.

You can find out more about the development of the marine invertebrate collections here.


The Invertebrate Section also includes an extensive  Entomological collection containing a further two million specimens from all over the world with particular strengths in Lepidoptera, Odonata, Hymenoptera, small orders and certain Coleoptera and Diptera. Although worldwide in scope, the collection is particularly rich in Scottish material and the collection is frequently consulted for this reason.

You can find out more about the development of the entomology collections here.


Dr Vladimir Blagoderov: Principal Curator, Invertebrates

Specific responsibility: Head of Invertebrate collections. Curation and development of the collection of marine and terrestrial invertebrates, including insects.
Research interest/expertise: Taxonomy of fungus gnats (Diptera: Sciaroidea); systematics, phylogeny and palaeontology of true flies (Insecta: Diptera); biodiversity informatics.

You can find out more about Dr Vladimir Blagoderov here.

Marine Invertebrates staff

Fiona Ware: Curator, Invertebrate Biology

Fiona Ware

Specific responsibility: Curation and development of the collections of marine invertebrates including Porifera (sponges), Cnidaria (jellyfish, sea anemones, corals and hydroids), Crustacea (barnacles, shrimps, lobsters, crabs), Bryozoa (sea mats), Echinodermata (sea urchins, starfish, sea cucumbers) and Tunicata (sea squirts); research loans and enquiries.
Research interest/expertise: Development of the collections of Scottish marine invertebrates; taxonomy and biogeography of benthic harpacticoid copepods; subterranean biology and the ecology of invertebrates inhabiting terrestrial cave environments.

Sankurie Pye: Curator, Invertebrate Biology

Sankurie Pye

Specific responsibility: Curation and collection development of Mollusca and brachiopod collections (worldwide).
Research interest/expertise: Taxonomy and biogeography of the British Hydrobiidae (mud snails). Ecologically orientated work has included studies of the distribution of the molluscan faunas around Britain.

You can find out more about Sankurie Pye here.

Marine Invertebrates Research Associate

Susan Chambers

Research interest/expertise: Polychaete taxonomy (names of marine worms) with a special interest in temperate Cirratulidae, Polynoidae and tropical Sabellaridae. Also the zoogeography of chaetognaths, a different group of planktonic worms.

Entomology staff

Ashleigh Whiffin: Assistant Curator, Entomology

Specific responsibility: Curation and development of the insect collections; research loans and enquiries.
Research interest/expertise: Development of the collections of British insects; key interest is Coleoptera (especially Silphidae – carrion beetles); science communication (see power of social media for more).

You can find out more about Ashleigh Whiffin here.

Entomology Research Associates

Stephen Hewitt

Research interest/expertise: Flies (Diptera) - especially lower Brachycera and Empidoidea – and other terrestrial insects of riverine and upland habitats.

Iain MacGowan

Research interests/expertise: Scottish and European Diptera. Regularly donates data-rich specimens to the National Museums Scotland collections, including type material from his own studies. Ongoing collaborations involve several individual projects on specific dipteran groups, particularly on taxonomic and conservation subjects.

Dr Graham Rotheray

Research interest/expertise: Diptera (flies), especially Syrphidae (hoverflies) and saproxylic Diptera (dead wood flies); their larvae, functional morphology; phylogenetics (identifying and understanding biological relationships), biodiversity and conservation.

Dr Mark Shaw

Research interest/expertise: Taxonomy, biology and ecology of parasitic wasps, especially Western Palaearctic Ichneumonidae and Braconidae.

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