Bollinger County Museum of Natural History

The need for a state repository for Missouri fishes

by Bob Hrabik, Curator of Fishes, BCMNH

Missouri is blessed with a rich fish fauna of 229 recognized species. This richness is owed to Missouri’s political boundaries, which overlay several major physiographic provinces: Glaciated Till Plains, Osage Plains, Ozarks, and the Gulf Coastal Plain (Alluvial Basin; see Figure 1). In addition, two of North America’s largest rivers traverse through or along Missouri: the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Only states to the south and east of Missouri have more fish species.

Missouri Geology Map

Unfortunately, this rich biological heritage is not well-preserved within the state’s boundaries. Scientists often collect and preserve fish specimens for scientific study. Such collections when used specifically for taxonomic and systematic works are termed systematics research collections. However, because Missouri is one of a few states in the Midwest that does not have a museum research collection (see map), nearly all preserved material is shipped to other states.

We are trying to rectify this situation at the Bollinger County Museum of Natural History. We are working with the Missouri Academy of Science with support of the Missouri Department of Conservation to create Missouri’s only state repository for fishes. It is hoped that this collection will lay the foundation for other Missouri collections and be the impetus for the creation of a Missouri Biological Survey in due time.

Fish Collections Map

Fish Collections Map
Fish Collections


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