I agree. Voucher specimens are important, this is a great discussion and the topic would be a good one for an ECN meeting. Another important aspect to promoting deposition of voucher specimens is also submitting copies of the accompanying legal documentation (import/export permits, declarations etc.), which is sometimes overlooked and would have implications for at least us (AMNH) accepting voucher specimens in the collection.




Christine A. Johnson

Curatorial Associate

The American Museum of Natural History

Division of Invertebrate Zoology

Central Park West at 79th Street

New York, NY 10024

[log in to unmask]

(212) 769-5605



Tri-trophic Thematic Collections Network

Picturing Science

Annales Zoologici Fennici

Entomologica Americana

Journal of Negative Results 


From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Furth, David
Sent: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 5:06 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Voucher specimen protocols


This is a great discussion and might possibly a topic for ECN meeting or some other ECN action.  As I indicated previously this has long been a topic of concern to me. 


It is great to see that many of you and your institutions are formulating recommendations, policies and requirements.  It is good to see that the Texas A & M crew fought hard to make this a requirement.  It needs to be just that rather than a guideline/recommendation.  Otherwise, as has been pointed out, it will be quite variable.  Yes, I know enforcement is difficult, but it always is! 


The suggestion of a grad student orientation class (which I believe still happens at some schools for a variety of reasons,) could easily mention such a requirement and stress that the results of their grad work cannot be considered repeatable science IF no vouchers of their organisms are deposited properly.  And yes there can certainly be case-by-case exceptions like established lab cultures, etc., but it should still be a requirement that vouchers have to be deposited at some institution. 


Anyway 2 more cents-worth!

From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of James Woolley [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Monday, February 24, 2014 10:31 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Voucher specimen protocols

Our experience at Texas A&M is similar to what has been reported by others.  Although we have a policy in place that dissertations and theses require deposition of voucher specimens, it is really up to the student's committee to enforce it, and so I reckon compliance is very uneven.  This was quite the battle around here about the time Wharton and I arrived, but we eventually won, at least, on paper.


On the other hand, we do have a simple procedure for labeling and logging in voucher specimens, and over the years, many students have deposited them.


Ed may also want to comment on how many vouchers we have seen recently.



Jim Woolley

Professor of Entomology

Department of Entomology

Texas A&M University

College Station, TX 77843-2475



979-845-3699 lab

979-845-6305 FAX


On Feb 24, 2014, at 9:07 AM, Christopher Carlton <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Our voucher policy starts on page 10 of the student handbook (link below). It is up to the student's advisor and committee to enforce the policy, so compliance varies and quality of specimens and preparation vary even more, as has been previously noted.




Chris Carlton, Ph. D.

Benjamin Holton Professor of Agriculture 

Director, Louisiana State Arthropod Museum

Department of Entomology, LSB-404

110 Union Sq., Baton Rouge, LA 70803-1710


From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Bob Blinn <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, February 24, 2014 8:44 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Voucher specimen protocols


Here at NC State there has been a voucher policy for longer than I have been here (25+ years).  Basically it is the students responsibility to deposit vouchers from their research into the collection.  It varies from student to student as to what and how much is deposited and to be honest if anything is deposited.  It is their responsibility and difficult to enforce.



On Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 6:00 PM, Division of Entomology <[log in to unmask]> wrote:



While I’m thinking about it…


The SEMC is in the process of formulating an official policy regarding our acceptance of voucher specimens generated from various university, NGO, state and federal research projects. Although the university department with which we are most closely allied, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, does not have any particular rules requiring vouchers as part of their program (so far as I know), we feel it is within our mandate to accept them and have recently had more and more well-meaning but poorly-informed students ask us about them.


Would any of you folks at university-based collections (or otherwise) have voucher policies that I could examine and potentially use as a template for our own? A seminar course outlining the basics of specimen preparation, preservation, curation and data standards and formats would be a lovely requirement for all students using arthropods in their research (systematic, ecological or otherwise), though one does not currently exist.


From the collection’s standpoint, how do you decide how much material is too much, or are you required to take everything given to you? Do you require the curatorial supplies necessary to voucher specimens (drawers, pins, trays, alcohol) to be purchased by the student/mentor, or are these costs absorbed by the collection? Do you require the donor to digitally capture the specimen data prior to acceptance, or is that something that falls upon collection staff?


I would love to have a look at any relevant web pages or documents you folks might have out there- please pass them along!





Zachary H. Falin, Ph.D.

Collections Manager,


Division of Entomology,

KU Biodiversity Institute

1501 Crestline Dr., Suite 140

Lawrence, KS 66045-4401




Bob Blinn
Collection Manager
NCSU Insect Museum
Department of Entomology
Box 7613, NC State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7613

phone 919-515-3595
fax 919-515-7746