The Vertebrate Biology collections comprise more than 200,000 specimens from around the world, including skins, skeletons, eggs, nests, wet specimens, tissue samples, fossils and archaeological remains.
We continue to develop our collections so that they remain relevant for research today and into the future. However, historical collections allow researchers to look back into the past with new techniques to extract DNA or measure levels of stable isotopes to see how species have changed over time.
The collections are used by our staff and visiting researchers, for studies on anatomy, functional morphology, geographical variation, phylogeography, hybridisation, conservation biology and animal welfare.
You can find out more about our main collections here:
Specific responsibility: Head of Birds, Mammals and Taxidermy. Curation and development of bird and mammal collections, especially carnivores (felids, mustelids), marine mammals and ungulates. Exhibition development.
Research interest/expertise: Hybridisation (cross-breeding) between native and introduced mammal species, geographical variation (including biogeography) and the effects of captivity on mammal and bird skeletal morphology, including ageing and
pathology, faunal change and zooarchaeology of Scotland.
You can find out more about Dr Andrew Kitchener here.
Specific responsibility: Curation of bird collections, including skins, eggs and skeletons.
Research interest/expertise: His main interests lie in the history of collections, bird egg collections and the comprehensive archives of the Scottish naturalist J.A. Harvie-Brown (1844-1916).
You can find out more about Bob McGowan here.
Specific responsibility: Curation of mammal collections, especially cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises), small mammals (mice, voles, shrews).
Research interest/expertise: Molecular evolution, intraspecific variation, biogeography and archaeology of Eurasian mammals, especially rodents and cetaceans.
You can find out more about Dr Jerry Herman here.
Specific responsibility: Curation of the vertebrate collections.
Research interest/expertise: Vertebrate biology and collections care.
Specific responsibility: Development of the Edinburgh Biobank hub across BBSRC funded CRYOARKS and European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) biobank initiatives.
Research interest/expertise: Conservation genetic and genomic analysis; Development of DNA-based laboratory protocols for informing population conservation management; DNA/tissue sample storage and archive.
You can find out more about Dr Gill Murray-Dickson here.
Specific Responsibility: Assisting curators and taxidermists with exhibitions preparation and upkeep.
Expertise: Preparation of bird and mammal skeletal specimens.
Specific responsibility: Preparation of animal specimens for study and basic curation of vertebrates.
Research interests: Taxonomy, systematics and biogeography of Central American lower vertebrates and insects.
Responsible for: Preparation of non-passerine birds and small mammals.
Research interest/expertise: Bird and small mammal taxidermy as well as the preparation of skeletal material.