The University of Kansas Ichthyology collection contains more than 680,000 specimens of fishes from around the world and is the basis of the research and educational activities of the Division of Ichthyology. The collection has an emphasis on freshwater fishes of the central United States and also has significant marine and estuarine collections. The fish collection has representation from 3171 taxa (297 families and 1262 genera) and 79 countries including Ecuador, Fiji, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua and various marine localities. The collections and the scope of research activities in the division continue to grow due to the ongoing activities of ichthyology staff and students.
The collection is used by national and international researchers as well as by state and federal agencies. The Division of Ichthyology is designated as a Regional Center in the Midwest and Great Plains Regions (Collette & Lachner 1976, Copeia 1976: 625-642; Poss and Collette 1995, Copeia 1995: 48-70) and is among the top twenty ichthyological collections in the country. Almost 60% of the specimens in the collection are from the Great Plains Region. The collection is an important resource for anyone interested in the region's fishes. The data concerning these faunas are not extensively duplicated by other ichthyological collections.
The Ichthyology collection comprises whole, wet, voucher specimens in 70% ethanol (98%), specimens maintained as dry skeletons (0.3%) and cleared and stained preparations in glycerine (1.7%). Other ancillary collections include a large slide and digital image collection of specimens and locations (some of which are linked to specimen records through the database), a large field note collection and a map collection.
The wet specimens are housed in a state-of-the-art fluid collection facility, opened in 1996. The facility has 2,400 square feet of collection storage space on four floors and is shared with Herpetology, Mammalogy, Ornithology, Entomology and Invertebrate Zoology. The collection storage environment is maintained at 65°F year-round by an HVAC system. Specimens are housed in state of the art glassware and stainless steel tanks and protected by a sprinkler fire suppression system and UV-shielded lighting. The division has both morphological research facilities and a shared molecular systematic laboratory.