About the Ichthyology Collection

The roots of UT's Zoology collections can be traced back to the work of Dr. W. Frank Blair in 1946. Dr. Blair, apparently frustrated at the lack of knowledge about the distribution of vertebrates in Texas, focused on collecting amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. When Dr. Clark Hubbs joined the faculty in 1949, he worked on adding extensive ichthyological material, thus creating the foundation of what is now the University's Ichthyology Collection.

A scientific image of a fish

The Ichthyology Collection currently (October 2018) consists of more than 70,000 lots (over 1.5 million specimens), most of which are "wet" collections preserved for long-term storage in 70% non-denatured ethanol. The collection has a small selection of larval fish from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands that are in 10% formalin. The skeletal collection consists of around 1300 cleared and stained fish, as well as over 500 skeletal preparations. The alcoholic collections currently occupy 1586 square feet, spread out over two rooms. They also have a tissue collection with over 2000 samples preserved in 100% ethanol frozen in liquid nitrogen.

The earliest specimens were collected in 1912, with a few collections from the 1930s and 1940s. There was significant growth in 1950–1980, mainly due to Clark Hubbs and his students. The bulk of our specimens (80%) are Texas freshwater fishes, with all Texas specimens (freshwater, saltwater, and brackish water) accounting for 87% of the collection. The overall marine holdings, primarily from the Gulf of Mexico, consist of 7% of all localities. Holdings from other U. S. states or territories include Florida, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, 30 other states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Twenty non-U. S. countries are represented and account for 9% of the collection, with significant holdings from Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Zambia. The collection continues to rapidly grow with many of incoming specimens deriving from Dean Hendrickson and his students, museum staff, various researchers, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the National Park Service.

Type Specimens

The type collection includes:

Over 46 species are represented. The type specimens are housed in a separate area from the rest of the collections.

Acquired & Special Collections

Over the years we have absorbed into our catalog substantial collections from the following institutions:

  • University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI): donated to Texas Natural History Center in 1990, containing over 3,000 lots of marine and brackish specimens from the Gulf of Mexico
  • Midwestern University (MWSU): donated in 2000, Midwestern's preserved and skeletal fish teaching collection of fresh and saltwater specimens (over 1400 lots), mostly collected by W.W. Dalquest and his students
  • Texas Tech University (TTU): exchanged with UT in 2000, adding over 1300 lots to the Ichthyology collection
  • Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAIC): donated in 2002 and contributing over 5,200 lots, the personal collection of Dr. Allan H. Chaney
  • The University of Texas at Brownsville: over 1100 lots donated in 2003 of David McNeely's coastal collections
  • Lamar University: ~1200 records, primarily from east Texas and the Gulf Coast, donated in 2011
  • University of Louisiana at Monroe - the Ichthyology Collection received part of this large collection, specifically specimens from Texas and Mexico, in 2019. They blogged quite extensively about the whole process and the unique values and importance of this collection. Other parts of the collection, largely the work of Dr. Neil Douglas, went to various Louisiana collections.
  • Texas State University (TSUSM) - over 2,500 previously uncatalogued lots donated in 2014 primarily from collections made by Dr. Tim Bonner and his students mostly from locations throughout Texas.

State and federal government agencies that contribute significantly to the collection include:

Our Name and Codon

Natural History Collections, like the Ichthyology Collection, have unique abbreviations called codons. They are used as shorthand to define where specimens are held (typically as a prefix to the catalog number) and are often encountered in online data aggregators and publications that cite specimens. The Ichthyology Collection is one of the collections in the Biodiversity Center collections  and were formerly part of the Texas Natural History Collections (TNHC) administered by Texas Memorial Museum (TMM) and the Texas Natural Science Center (TNSC). Each of these parenthetical codons, as well as those associated with absorbed collections, can be seen among the data depending on when and where the data were acquired. Users referring to the collections or citing specific specimens held in our collection should use our current codon, "TNHCI".

Clark Hubbs Materials

Dr. Clark Hubbs founded UT's fish collection and his legacy is very much apparent still. 13.4% of the jars on the Ichthyology Collection shelves still bear his name as collector. A group of his former students and colleagues formed the Hubbs Ichthyological Society to honor Clark and his career by continuing his life-long efforts to document the Texas freshwater fish fauna, to learn more about it, and to help protect it and the habitats it occupies. Dean Hendrickson published a biography of Clark Hubbs in 2000, and more recently (2019), the Biodiversity Center prepared and published a web page on him.

The Clark Hubbs Papers

The Clark Hubbs Papers were donated to the Texas Natural History Collections as a bequest of Dr. Hubbs' will. Along with his professional papers, the TNHC also has Hubbs' reprint collection, library of books, and field notes. The papers (not including the reprints, books, and field notes) were processed and re-housed during the summer of 2011 by a hard-working and dedicated Masters of Information Science student who left it all neatly organized into proper archival storage in the TNHC Library. The contents are now far more secure for long-term preservation, and easily accessible. As a result, these papers are far more valuable not only to those who work in this collection, but also to future researchers.

This collection is divided into three main groups: Researcher, Author, and Faculty Member. The bulk of the collection comes from Dr. Hubbs' role as a researcher.

Major series in this collection include:

  • Researcher - Field Notes
  • Researcher - Lab Notebooks
  • Researcher - Lab Notecards
  • Researcher - Lab Notes
  • Researcher - Reports
  • Author - Manuscripts
  • Author - Reprints
  • Author - Visual Aids
  • Faculty Member - Administrator
  • Faculty Member - Professor

Download the archive's Finding Aid (pdf).

UT's Briscoe Center also has archives of Clark's materials. See their metadata for that collection.

Contact Dean Hendrickson, Curator, Ichthyology, for further information and access to the materials held in the Fish Collection.