Herpetology Loan Policy

Loan Policy
Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University (FHSM)
Division of Herpetology



The Division of Herpetology at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History (FHSM) maintains a collection of tissue samples preserved in 95% ethyl alcohol (EtOH).  The Division treats the use of this collection as it does the use of other expendable collections, such as anatomical specimens, with an open policy of reciprocal loans to similar institutions that maintain collections and promote specimen-based research.  However, the Division recognizes that many potential users of tissue samples are not associated with museums.  Consequently, it is prepared to loan tissue samples to researchers that have important research projects underway that require samples from extirpated populations, or that would otherwise unnecessarily impact extant populations.

Most tissue samples in the Division of Herpetology were acquired in association with specific research projects initiated by and continuing in the laboratories of active members of the curatorial staff.  Only a portion of the Division’s tissue holdings was obtained as a result of general collecting.  Consequently, not all tissues will be available to borrowers, and tissue samples will be loaned only upon evaluation of the project for which the samples are requested.  Unlike some preparations, tissue samples are eventually used up; thus, it is the responsibility of the curatorial staff to conserve tissue and ensure its wise usage.

Occasionally, researchers might request pieces from dry skins, shells, or other traditional specimens for molecular research projects.  Such requests will be made in the same way as described below for EtOH-stored tissue samples.  However, such requests will be evaluated on a more stringent basis, because all such uses inevitably lead to a reduction in the usefulness of the original specimen, due to loss of material, rough handling, manipulation, etc.  In general, we will provide samples from traditional specimens strictly as supplementary material, following the successful completion of the rest of the research project.  The researcher making such a request has a responsibility to provide reasons why a particular specimen is required and why a fresh tissue sample cannot be procured.



All loans of tissue samples are made to institutions and an institutional representative must request a loan of tissue samples.  The following are required to evaluate the request.

  • An executive summary of the research proposal (two pages max) for which the tissues will be used. The summary should include the techniques to be used and evidence that those techniques are already being employed successfully in the laboratory of the investigator (e.g. citations, etc.), and an indication that the tissues collected by the investigator and samples contributed by other institutions will meet the needs of the project.
  • A list of the tissue samples being requested from FHSM, a justification of the number and types of tissues requested, and the amount of tissue requested.
  •  Evidence of the credentials and other qualifications of the researcher to perform the project.
  • A list of the tissue samples being requested from FHSM, a justification of the number and types of tissues requested, and the amount of tissue required.
  • A list of the funding sources including grant identification numbers that will support the research.

The application review will be coordinated by the Zoological Collections Manager with members of the curatorial staff of the Division of Herpetology.  The criteria for potential approval of loans include:

  • Scientific value and feasibility of the project.
  • Qualifications of the researcher.
  • Need for the specific samples requested.
  • Evidence that the investigator is contributing to the general availability of genetic resources in the herpetological research community.
  • Approval of the original collector of the tissue samples, if appropriate.

Upon approval of a loan request, tissues will be sent by appropriate means.  If special shipping conditions are requested, the recipient institution must provide these expenses.


Conditions of Loans

In exchange for a loan of tissue samples from the Division of Herpetology, the recipient must agree to the following conditions:

  1. Transfer of tissues

Tissues are loaned for the sole use of the investigator requesting the samples, specifically for the project approved by the curatorial staff of the Division of Herpetology.  The tissue is not to be further loaned to other investigators at the requesting institution, nor is any part of it to be transferred to any third institution, without permission from the Division.

  1. Commercial agreement

The recipient of a loan of tissue samples must agree that the tissue sample and any results stemming from its use will not be used for any commercial purpose.  All commercial rights for any discovery associated with a tissue sample on loan from the Sternberg Museum of Natural History remain the property of the FHSM, or as stipulated in agreements the FHSM may have established with foreign governments in originally acquiring the specimens.

  1. Acknowledgments and reprints

The recipient of a loan of tissue samples will acknowledge the collections of the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in all publications that report primary results of laboratory work with those samples.  Two paper copies and a digital copy of all publications resulting from work on tissue samples loaned by FHSM will be sent to the Zoological Collections Manager. The proper format for acknowledging FHSM is as follows: Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University (FHSM).

  1. Voucher Numbers

If DNA sequences from loaned tissues are deposited in GenBank or any other genetic data bank, they must be accompanied by the FHSM voucher specimen number associated with the tissue sample.


Dr. Laura E. Wilson, Chief Curator (lewilson6@fhsu.edu) 
Dr. William J. Stark (Associate Curator of Herpetology)  wstark@fhsu.edu
 Sternberg Museum of Natural History (FHSM)
Fort Hays State University
3000 Sternberg Drive, Hays, KS 67601