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Nachman Family
Dr. Michael Nachman in the Sierra Nevada
(Image courtesy of Dr. Michael Nachman, all rights reserved)

Dear MVZ Friends, Colleagues, Faculty, Students, Staff, and Alumni:

Welcome to the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology! The MVZ was founded in 1908 by Annie M. Alexander, under the directorship of Joseph Grinnell. Since its founding, the MVZ has been a world-class institution dedicated to research and education focused on the biology of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

Research in the MVZ addresses fundamental questions in ecology, evolution, organismal biology, behavior, biodiversity, conservation, climate change, and genomics, using both empirical and theoretical approaches. During its more-than-100-year history the MVZ has been a leader in these areas, both through the caliber of its faculty and staff and through the caliber of its students and postdocs. A common theme of research and education in the MVZ is the study of organisms in their environment. We recognize the unique value of field-based studies.

The collections are at our core. They include over 700,000 specimens of terrestrial vertebrates and 100,000 frozen tissue samples which can be used to study molecular evolution and comparative genomics. The collections also include over 90,000 pages of field notes, over 5,000 sound recordings, over 12,000 photographs, and many other ancillary data associated with specimens. These collections are heavily used in research by scientists at Berkeley and throughout the world. Among the many discoveries enabled by the collections are the causes of amphibian declines, the thinning of egg shells caused by DDT, changes in faunal distributions in response to global climate change, genetic changes associated with the origin of new species, and the genetic basis of adaptation to novel environments.

The faculty, staff, postdocs, students, and volunteers who work in the MVZ bring a level of dedication and passion to their work that inspires me daily. I thank all of you for your hard work and constant enthusiasm. It is an absolute joy to be a part of such a profoundly engaged scientific community.

The future is bright. We are working on every continent, including the rocky shores of Tierra del Fuego, remote forests in Indonesia, African savannahs, and of course our own backyard in California and the American West. We are discovering new species. We are documenting the effects of climate change on the earth’s biota. We are educating the public about biodiversity and its conservation. And we are unraveling the genetic details of how new species form and adapt to their environment. These are just a few of the things that happen regularly at the MVZ. At the same time, we are training students to be future leaders in evolutionary biology and related disciplines. We look forward to welcoming you to the MVZ.

Best wishes,

Michael Nachman, Director
June 12, 2017


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