At present the Division of Invertebrates, which began with a collection of 16,000 lots, manages ca. 340,000 cataloged mollusk lots, with approximately 4.5 million specimens. Our molluscan collection now ranks among the top three or four in North America.
Specimens of 62% of the currently recognized molluscan families are present in the collection, with 80% of the shelled molluscan families represented. Recent concentration on marine "micro-mollusks" and deep-sea taxa has further increased our holdings. Approximately 55% of our collection is comprised of terrestrial, 30% of marine and 15% of freshwater taxa. In total, approximately 36,000 molluscan taxa are represented, about two thirds of which are terrestrial.
Holdings of terrestrial gastropods (land snails and slugs) contain approximately 2.5 million specimens in about 165,000 lots and represent roughly 20,000 taxa. This collection is one of the most comprehensive in the world and an internationally recognized resource with one of the most diverse holdings of modern field collections of land snails. The large holdings of eastern U.S. species, in particular of the Leslie Hubricht collection, comprise a unique resource for ecological, environmental, systematic and other studies.
The freshwater mollusks are estimated to number 45,000 lots (about two-thirds gastropods and one-third bivalves). The freshwater snails of eastern North America are well represented in the collection, providing an excellent resource for systematic and ecological studies. Other geographic areas covered by these collections are Southeast Asia and the Philippines, South America and Europe. The bulk of the freshwater bivalves are composed of an outstanding unionid collection assembled by Dr. Fritz Haas (curator 1938-1958). The majority of endangered species in the U.S. are unionids and species of this group are often sensitive environmental indicators. The area of geographic strength in our freshwater bivalves is North America.
Most historical marine material, approximately 90,000 lots, was received as part of formed collections or as voucher material. There is a good synoptic representation of the extant marine mollusks and a growing, taxonomically diverse collection of small-shelled "micro" mollusks. Geographic coverage is world-wide with strengths in Florida and the Caribbean. The collection contains considerable historically important marine material acquired in several major private collections (48 KB) and material that is resulting from field work by curators.
. The marine mollusk collection has a worldwide coverage with particular strengths in Florida and the Caribbean, as well as in deep-sea and hot-vent environments. Within the terrestrial and freshwater molluscan collections there is strong representation from the Nearctic, Neotropical, Pacific Island, Australian and European regions. Through the field collections of former Curator A. Solem, The Field Museum's holdings of land snails from the Pacific Islands and especially from Australia are among the most comprehensive in the world. Acquisition of several important collections, in particular the Leslie Hubricht Collection in 1990, made this among the world's premier collections of terrestrial mollusks.
Series per Geographical Area
Taxa per Geographical Area
Among the unique components of the Invertebrate Collection are specimens collected by submersibles at sea floor hydrothermal vents in the east Pacific Ocean. Specimens from vents on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, Gorda Ridge, and from the East Pacific Rise, are represented.
Our growing collection of alcohol-preserved specimens currently comprises approximately 30,700 series and 5,400 taxa. There are strong holdings of terrestrial snails from North America, Australia, Pacific Islands and Europe, as well as marine mollusks from the tropical West Atlantic Ocean and from deep-sea habitats in the Northeast Pacific Ocean.
The molluscan type collection contains representatives of several thousand nominal taxa. Type designations by just three Field Museum-associated authors, Haas, Hubricht and Solem, account for over 500 species. Additional type material of species described as early as 1860 entered the collection through the accessions of various formed collections.
. The Field Museum’s Division of Invertebrates houses several auxiliary collections: book and serial libraries; a reprint collection of invertebrate scientific literature (ca. 10,000 titles); a collection of malacological newsletters; gastropod radulae mounted on Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) stubs; and more than 6,500 SEM photographs and negatives of molluscan feeding apparatuses and shell microstructures. Frozen specimens and other material especially preserved for molecular studies and fine-anatomical research are more recent additions to our auxiliary collections.
The Division of Invertebrates currently holds approximately 14,500 lots (= specimen series) of non-mollusk invertebrates. Crustaceans comprise over 40% of this material. Although the core of these holdings are collections acquired by The Field Museum from the 1893 Columbian Exposition, additions have come via collecting efforts with primary focus on other groups and the deposit of voucher material. In recent years, deep-sea invertebrates collected by submersible became a focus of our non-mollusk holdings. Type specimens constitute 138 lots, representing 57 nominal species in five phyla.
Support from the U.S. National Science Foundation allowed for massive data-capture efforts, beginning with the computerization of Leslie Hubricht's 43,000-series collection of North American land snails. A second NSF-supported project, retrospective data capture of 100,000 series of land snail holdings, is now complete. Each of the more than 143,000 series was rehoused and relabeled in archival quality material. The Field Museum provides access to the world's largest "virtual" land snail collection (freshwater and most marine mollusks and the non-molluscan specimens are yet to be fully databased).