AboutMammalogy conducts research, research training and graduate education on the world's mammals–their global diversity, evolution, geography, genomics, morphology, conservation, ecology and behavior. These studies are grounded in research collections of 180,000 specimens and associated data.
Professor Francis H. Snow started KU's collections in 1866, the summer before the University opened. The “Cabinet of Natural History,” initiated by Snow and formally established by the University in 1868, has grown to become one of the major university collections in the world. A number of museum practices and curation mammal collections had their origin or early development at Kansas.
In 1881, Snow hired Lewis Lindsay Dyche as his assistant. Dyche became a full-time instructor in Natural History in 1883. When Snow was named Chancellor in 1889, Dyche became Curator of Birds and Mammals, and began the present mammal collections. Dyche's exhibit of large mounted mammals at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago (and still on public display in the exhibit halls of the KU Natural History Museum) led to construction of what is now known as Dyche Hall, begun in 1901 and completed in 1903. Dyche also influenced the development of other natural history museums. For example, a young Joseph Grinnell met Dyche in Alaska and was inspired to pursue a career in natural history. In 1908, Grinnell came to Kansas from Berkeley University seeking Dyche's advice on how to operate a museum.
In 1912, Dyche was succeeded by Charles Dean Bunker, who perfected the dermestid beetle method of cleaning skeletal material. Bunker and Remington Kellogg, and later H. H. Lane and Claud W. Hibbard, continued an active program of collecting, concentrating on the Great Plains region. In 1944, E. Raymond Hall, who had been a KU undergraduate with Bunker and a graduate student with Grinnell at California, became Director of the Museum and Chairman of the Department of Zoology. Under his aegis, the Modern Vertebrate Department was separated into the divisions of Mammalogy, Herpetology, Ichthyology, and Ornithology. A new wing to Dyche Hall was completed in 1963 due to Hall's acquisition of matching funds from the National Science Foundation and State Legislature.
Hall, at both Berkeley and Lawrence, trained a number of renowned mammalogists, including Ticul Alvarez, Sydney Anderson, Rollin H. Baker, E. Lendel Cockrum, William B. Davis, James S. Findley, Robert B. Finley, Hugh H. Genoways, Donald F. Hoffmeister, Emmet T. Hooper, J. Knox Jones, Jr., Phillip Krutzsch, Ronald M. Nowak, H. W. Setzer, Richard G. Van Gelder, Terry A. Vaughan, B. Villa-R., and P. M. Youngman. These mammalogists in turn trained their own students, and those students have trained another generation and that next generation is now training students. The late J. Knox Jones served as curator of mammals from 1959 through 1971, and trained several mammalogists here including: David M. Armstrong, Elmer C. Birney, Jerry R. Choate, H. H. Genoways, G. Lawrence Forman, Timothy E. Lawlor, and Carleton J. Phillips. Robert S. Hoffmann served as a curator of mammals from 1968 through 1985, and produced a number of masters and Ph.D. students including Fernardo Cervantes, Lawrence R. Heaney, James W. Koeppl, Eric A. Rickart, Robert K. Rose, Barbara R. Stein, and Merlin D. Tuttle. In 1985, Hoffmann accepted the position of Director of the United States National Museum and Robert M. Timm was hired to serve as curator of mammals and a faculty member in the Department of Systematics and Ecology (now Ecology and Evolutionary Biology).
An Expanding Collection
Maximum field collecting took place from 1945 to the early 1970's. Faunal surveys throughout Mexico and the western United States led to major publications on: northern Alaska (Bee and Hall, 1956), Chihuahua (Anderson, 1972), Coahuila (Baker, 1956), Sinaloa (Armstrong and Jones, 1971; Jones et al., 1972; Armstrong et al., 1972), Tamaulipas (Alvarez, 1963), Veracruz (Hall and Dalquest, 1963), Colorado (Armstrong, 1972), Iowa (Bowles, 1975), Kansas (Hall, 1955; Cockrum, 1952; Bee et al., 1981), Nebraska (Jones, 1964), Utah (Durrant, 1952), Washington (Dalquest, 1948), and Wyoming (Long, 1965), and numerous systematic revisions. This work provided a foundation for Hall and Kelson (1959), and Hall (1981), The Mammals of North America. The synopsis of mammalian families by Anderson and Jones (1967), and Mammal Species of the World (Honacki et al., 1982), were compiled and edited at the University of Kansas.
From 1945–1973, ca. 115,000 specimens were added to the collection. In recent years the collection growth has focused on more restricted research questions. Use of the collection has broadened, with emphasis on ecological/morphological/evolutionary aspects of systematic studies. Currently, the curator of the mammal collection is Robert M. Timm. Under Timm's tenure, the collection increased from 126,000 (in 1986) to more than 180,000 specimens today. Focus has been placed on Latin American species, initiation of a frozen tissue collection, and preparation of complete skeletons with each specimen. Thorvald Holmes served as the collection manager from 1987 to 2008 contributing a complete reorganization of the collections and preparation of high quality specimens. Over the years, a number of students rotated through Mammalogy as graduate curatorial assistants, undergraduate assistants, and volunteers with a number of those going on in various aspects of mammalogy.
Once an outgrowth of the Cabinet of Natural History, then under the aegis of the KU Natural History Museum, today Mammalogy is a research entity of the KU Biodiversity Institute.