Date of Award

Fall 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Neil Snow (

Second Advisor

James Whitney (

Third Advisor

Ananda Jayawardhana (


Natural History Collections are a rich source of biological data. Each specimen contains data for that species’ presence for a specific location and time, providing researchers with essential biological information. Importantly, this information can be preserved and re-evaluated for hundreds of years. To maintain specimens through time, good curation protocols are essential. The Herpetology Collection (henceforth HC) at Pittsburg State University houses 1,631 specimens, representing 181 species and subspecie collected from 23 U.S. states, Mexico and Manitoba, Canada. The majority of specimens (78.6%) were collected from the four-state area (Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma). Specimens collected exclusively in Kansas comprise 56.6% of the HC, and were collected in 37 counties, with major collecting effort on Crawford, Cherokee and Bourbon counties. Spatial analysis revealed many unique and unduplicated spatiotemporal records confirming the importance of the PSU herpetology collection as a local repository and source of herpetofaunal data. The temporal analysis showed continual collecting from 1961 to 1970 and from 1981 to 2002 during the months of March through June. Collecting peaks occurred by month in April, by year in 1964, and by decade during the 1960s. The curatorial work this project did on the long-neglected collections was crucial to reverse degradation, it demonstrated that specimens can be curated to 21st century standards with appropriate efforts. Out of 1,631 specimens, 147 were lost during past physical moves; out of 1,484 specimens left, 221 were rehydrated (14.8%); 757 required change of preservative fluids (51.0%); and 457 specimens (30.8%) did not require further curation other than new jars. Data limitations often were present due to somewhat incomplete descriptions of locality and habitat. Collecting biases in or nearby urban areas, along roads, and in areas of known higher biodiversity levels were identified for Kansas specimens.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.