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Destructive Sampling Policy

MVZ Policies, Guidelines and Procedures

Researchers may request samples of skin, hair, feathers, toe pads, or bone from traditional specimens for DNA, isotope, or other analyses. However, because our collections are finite resources, one of our primary responsibilities is to protect the MVZ’s holdings to insure that they are available for use by future generations of researchers.

Requests for destructive sampling of museum specimens should follow the same general guidelines as for tissues. While we do approve such requests, they are evaluated more stringently than other requests.

As the number of destructive sampling requests has grown, it has become necessary to implement the following guidelines regarding destructive uses of museum specimens:

  • Requests for destructive sampling will be considered on a case by case basis by the relevant Curator(s).
  • Requests for destructive sampling must contain compelling reasons why the project cannot be completed without the use of museum specimens. This includes evidence that (a) the research question being addressed is explicitly historical and thus requires the use of museum specimens, or (b) the taxa of interest cannot be sampled directly from the field.
  • Requests for destructive sampling should provide evidence that the investigators have experience with associated analytical procedures (e.g., PCR amplification and sequencing of DNA from museum skins), and that the proposed studies are likely to generate useable data.

We emphasize that destructive samples are intended to supplement research materials obtained from other sources, not replace primary data collection efforts such as field sampling of extant taxa. While we strongly encourage collections-based research, our obligation to protect the MVZ's holdings may require that some requests for destructive samples be denied.

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