Skip to main content


United States National Tick Collection

Curator: Lorenza Beati

With over 125,000 accessioned lots, over one million specimens, their associated data, and an extensive library (reprints, monographs, and books), the U.S. National Tick collection is one of the largest curated tick collections in the World, if not the largest. It belongs to the U.S. National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution) and has been housed at Georgia Southern University since 1990. The collection contains specimens from all continents, most of the approximately 860 known species of ticks, and a quarter of the primary tick types.


Curator: Lance McBrayer

The Department of Biology is home to Georgia’s second largest herpetology collection. The collection contains approximately 35,000 specimens of reptiles and amphibians. The vast majority of the material is from the coastal plain of Georgia, although specimens from other regions allow us to have more than 95% of Georgia’s herpetofaunal species represented.

Gray’s Reef Invertebrates

Curators: Daniel Gleason, Alan Harvey

The Gray’s Reef Invertebrates website is a guide to the benthic invertebrates and cryptic fishes inhabiting hard bottom areas off the coast of Georgia that occur both inside and outside the boundaries of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Inside this site you will find a taxonomic list linking you to individual species pages containing photographs, basic biological information, and reference lists. We hope you will find this site useful and informative.

Ornithology (Bird) Collection

Curator: Ray Chandler

The Ornithology Collection at Georgia Southern University contains 172 bird skins, representing 108 species, 36 families, and 15 orders. The primary purpose of the collection is to support teaching needs in the Department of Biology, although the collection is available to researchers and includes many specimens of historical interest. Noteworthy holdings include 17 specimens prepared by Dr. George Sutton during the time he was painting the plates for Burleigh’s Birds of Georgia and 13 specimens from the California collection of Dr. Sturgis McKeever, emeritus professor of biology at Georgia Southern.

Entomology (Insect) Collection

Curator: Lance Durden

The collection is strongly regional (mainly GA Coastal Plain) but also includes specimens from some other states (mainly, FL, NC and SC) as well as a few non-U.S. specimens. It is especially strong in Diptera and Lepidoptera. Right now the collection consists of 228 standard Cornell-type drawers in 12 cabinets and 60 non-standard drawers in 2 cabinets crammed with a total of ~500,000 pinned specimens. There are also ~20,000 separate vials of alcohol-stored specimens. The specimens have traditionally been used mostly for teaching in the Biology Dept. (as well as in the Wildlife Center and the Georgia Southern University Museum) but with a small research component. However, the research component of the collection has been steadily increasing and the collection now includes many voucher specimens from various research studies.

Ichthyology (Fish) Collection

Curator: Stephen Vives

Paleontology (Fossil/Rock) Collection

Curator: Kathlyn Smith

The paleontology collections of Georgia Southern University are held in the Department of Geology and Geography. The collections primarily include fossils of Georgia’s coastal plain, including nearly 5,000 invertebrate and 1,500 vertebrate fossils ranging in age from 85 million years to 10,000 years old. One of the most significant fossils held in the collection is the mosasaur Tylosaurus proriger, an extinct marine reptile. T. proriger is one of the most complete mosasaurs known, and its acquisition by the university in the late 1970s was the primary impetus for establishing the Georgia Southern University Museum. In 1983, another fossil of international significance, Georgiacetus vogtlensis, was discovered by Georgia Southern paleontologists at Plant Vogtle in Burke County, Georgia, and added to the collections. G. vogtlensis is one of the oldest whales in North America, at 42 million years in age. It is an important fossil for the study of whale evolution because it shows features characteristic of both semi- and fully-aquatic mammals. Current efforts to build the collections are focused on recovering Pleistocene fossils from Georgia’s barrier islands and ancient whale fossils from the Ocala Limestone formation in southern Georgia.

Herbarium (Plant) Collection

Unbeknownst to most folks, Georgia Southern University is home to the third largest herbarium in the state of Georgia, with over 20,000 catalogued plant specimens and another 10,000 waiting to be prepared, identified, and catalogued. Half of the catalogued plants were collected in the state of Georgia, and half of our Georgian specimens were collected in Bulloch County. Our oldest specimens were collected 170 years ago! Perhaps surprisingly, the dried plants that are herbarium specimens often have quite active, lively, and controversial histories, which can be deduced from the numerous stamps and labels that accumulate on specimen sheets. These specimens*, for example, were first collected in Madagascar in 1887 and deposited at the Royal Kew Gardens in London, England, and identified as Colea racemosa. Some 50 years later they were re-identified as C. bakeri, then as C. lutescens, an identification that was itself questioned by former Georgia Southern Herbarium curator Dr. Michelle Zhjra a few years ago. The specimens were recently transferred from Georgia Southern to the Missouri Botanical Gardens, where yet another set of researchers will try to sort out the identity and relationships of this plant and its relatives. The uncertainty surrounding the identity of these specimens reflects more than anything the relentless accumulation of new evidence, requiring continuous re-evaluation of previous interpretations. This is only possible when each generation of researchers can examine the actual material studied by previous generations. Thus, the critical functions of herbaria are to house and protect plant specimens, both old and new, and to facilitate the loan or exchange of specimens among researchers and institutions.

Last updated: 1/3/2024