The roots of UT's Zoology collections can be traced back to the work of Dr. W. Frank Blair in 1946. Dr. Blair, apparently frustrated at the lack of knowledge pertaining to the distribution of vertebrates in Texas, focused on collecting amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. When Dr. Clark Hubbs joined the faculty in 1949, he worked on adding extensive ichthyological material, thus creating the foundation of what is now the University's Ichthyology Collection.
The Ichthyology collection currently (April 26, 2017) consists of 63,102 lots (over 1,000,000 specimens), most of which are "wet" collections preserved for long-term storage in 70% non-denatured ethanol. We have a small selection of larval fish from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands that are in 10% formalin. Our skeletal collection consists of around 1300 cleared and stained fish, as well as over 500 skeletal preparations. The alcoholic collections currently occupy 1586 square feet, spread out over two rooms. We also have a tissue collection with over 1300 samples preserved in 100% ethanol frozen in liquid nitrogen.
Our earliest specimes were collected in 1927, with a few collections from the 1930s and 1940s. There was significant growth in 1950–1980, mainly due to Clark Hubbs and his students. The bulk of our specimens (80%) are Texas freshwater fishes, with all Texas specimens (freshwater, saltwater, and brackish water) accounting for 87% of the collection. Our overall marine holdings, primarily from the Gulf of Mexico, consist of 7% of all localities. Holdings from other U. S. states or territories include: Florida, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, 30 other states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Twenty non-U. S. countries are represented and account for 9% of the collection, with significant holdings from Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Zambia. Our collection continues to rapidly grow with many of our incoming specimens deriving from Dean Hendrickson and his students, museum staff, various researchers, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the National Park Service.
Acquired & Special Collections
Over the years we have absorbed into our catalog several substantial collections from the following Texas institutions:
- University of Texas Marine Science Institute: dontated to TNHC in 1990, containing over 3,000 lots of marine and brackish specimens from the Gulf of Mexico
- Midwestern University: gifted in 2000, Midwestern's preserved and skeletal fish teaching collection of fresh and saltwater specimens (over 1400 lots), mostly collected by W.W. Dalquest and his students
- Texas Tech University: exchanged with UT in 2000, adding over 1300 lots to the Ichthyology collection
- Texas A&M University-Kingsville: gifted in 2002 and contributing over 5,200 lots, the personal collection of Dr. Allan H. Chaney
- The University of Texas at Brownsville: over 1100 lots donated in 2003 of David McNeely's coastal collections
- Lamar University: ~1200 records, primarily from east Texas and the Gulf coast, donated in 2011
State and federal government agencies that contribute significantly to our collections include:
Clark Hubbs Materials
Dr. Clark Hubbs founded UT's fish collection and his legacy is very much apparent still. 12% of the jars on our collection shelves still bear his name as collector. A group of his former students and colleagues formed the Hubbs Ichthyological Society to honor Clark and his career by continuing his life-long efforts to document the Texas freshwater fish fauna, to learn more about it, and to help protect it and the habitats it occupies.
The Clark Hubbs Papers
The Clark Hubbs Papers were donated to the Texas Natural History Collections as a bequest of Dr. Hubbs' will. Along with his professional papers, the TNHC also has Hubbs' reprint collection, library of books, and field notes. The papers (not including the reprints, books, and field notes) were processed and re-housed during the summer of 2011 by a hard-working and dedicated masters of Information Science student who left it all neatly organized into proper archival storage in the TNHC Library. The contents are now far more secure for long term preservation, and easily accessible. As a result, these papers are far more valuable not only to those of us who work in this collection, but also to future researchers.
This collection is divided into three main groups: Researcher, Author, and Faculty Member. The bulk of the collection comes from Dr. Hubbs' role as a researcher.
Major series in this collection include:
- Researcher - Field Notes
- Researcher - Lab Notebooks
- Researcher - Lab Notecards
- Researcher - Lab Notes
- Researcher - Reports
- Author - Manuscripts
- Author - Reprints
- Author - Visual Aids
- Faculty Member - Administrator
- Faculty Member - Professor
Download the archive's Finding Aid (pdf). Contact Dean Hendrickson, Curator, Ichthyology, for further information and access.