Loans must be requested using our online submission system and written requests must be made to the curator and/or collection manager stating which specimens are being requested and for what purpose. Loans are made only to established researchers at recognized institutions with the facilities to properly house and care for the specimens. Students should request loans through their advisor, who will sign the loan invoice and assume responsibility for care and return of the specimens. Researchers not affiliated with an institution may request loans provided that a recognized institution/individual is willing to take responsibility for the specimens.

Unless an exception is made, no more than ½ of our total specimens of a taxon (or total specimens from any area) will be loaned at one time; the remainder may be requested after the full return of the first half. We also reserve the right to limit loans on the basis of sex, size, location, collection dates and any other parameters that affect specimen value.

In all cases loan approval is at the discretion of the curator.

Failure to adhere to the terms and conditions below can result in loss of loan privileges.


Invoices must be signed and returned upon receipt of the specimens. Specimen damage that occurs during transit must be reported immediately. Taxonomic changes or other corrections to our data should be indicated on the signed returned loan invoice, and preferably included as well on new archival jar labels packaged together with the specimens. These labels should identify the person making the remarks. Borrowers are expected to notify the curator and collection manager of any unforeseen accidents that may have damaged or destroyed specimens.


Materials must be stored and handled according to professionally accepted standards and within limitations specified in the loan invoice. Specimens must be maintained in the fluid and concentration noted on the loan invoice.

Shipping specimens

All shipments must fully comply with all shipping and specimens transport restrictions imposed by any agents and governments, and packaging of specimens for shipment in hazardous materials (as are alcohol, formalin, dry ice and liquid Nitrogen) should comply with those regulations as well.

All shipments should be done by carriers that provide secure tracking of all shipments. Shipments should be coordinated with the collection manager and curator to assure that delays and detours are avoided. At the time of shipment, email or call the collection manager and curator of the package tracking information and carrier contacts, as well as anticipated arrival date and time.


Holotypes will not be loaned and loans of other types are carefully considered. Requests for loans of type material will only be considered if they can be hand-carried between the borrowing and loaning institutions, or if they can be shipped using a secure and fast courier service such as FedEx or other trusted carrier. If you wish to examine type specimens we encourage you to visit.


TNHC will pay outgoing shipping most loans, however costs associated with shipping specimens with special protected status as listed by any government, and and special fees charged by governments and some shippers, such as USFWS "Premium Inspection Fees", must be paid by borrower.

Loan period

Loans are for a period of 6 months, if additional time is needed a request must be submitted in writing to the curator before the due date.

Destructive sampling

Requests to dissect, or otherwise alter specimens in any way, must be made in writing to the curator and collection manager, who will make decisions on a case by case basis. If permission has been given to dissect or remove parts, those parts must be returned labeled with archival quality labels with the TNHC catalog number, and associated to the specimen from which they were removed. Any products of preparation such as DNA samples (below), histological slides, images, etc., are regarded as part of the specimens and must be returned, unless specific permission to retain sub-samples or products is granted by the curator in writing.

All specimens must be returned in the condition in which they were lent and all loaned specimens must be returned.

Genetic samples

Loans of genetic material are typically considered to be destructive loans since the material is usually destroyed in analysis. However, we ask that any unused tissue be returned along with any DNA extracts derived from those tissues. Any DNA sequences should be submitted to GenBank ( and TNHC should be notified of GenBank accession numbers. 

Transfers of loans

Requests for permission to transfer loans (whether to other institutions or other individuals) should be made well in advance of the proposed transfer in writing to both the curator and collection manager, and written permission obtained, prior to transfer of specimens.


Visiting the collections is encouraged when possible, especially when dealing with type and/or rare specimens. Please contact the appropriate curator and collections manager for more information.

Citing us in publications

Although the official name of the collections within the University of Texas is now the Biodiversity Collections of the Department of Integrative Biology, the acronym TNHC (Texas Natural History Collections) should be used when referring to specimens in publications. Whenever TNHC specimens or data are used in published research it should be acknowledged in the publication with a proper citation (see our preferred citation here). It is also customary to list specific specimen lots in publications. If doing so please reference our catalog numbers prefixed with "TNHC". Copies of all publications (peer reviewed or not) referencing TNHC specimens should be sent to the curator and collection manager.