Collections Policy

Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology



The Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology  (HWML) was established in 1971. The incentive and indeed the nucleus of the specimen collection itself was originally based on the pioneering work in parasite taxonomy, systematics, and biogeography done at the University of Nebraska by Harold W. Manter.  Manter had been a student of Henry Baldwin Ward, who founded the Journal of Parasitology and was the first president of the American Society of Parasitologists.

At UNL, Ward (1892-1909) was succeeded by F.D. Barker (1909-1926), Harold W. Manter (1926-1966), Dr. M.L. Hanson Pritchard, now Curator Emeritus, and Dr. Scott Lyell Gardner, the present Curator and director of the lab.  The curators, staff, students and research associates of the HWML are actively investigating the systematics and ecology of parasites including: the Nemata, the Acanthocephala, the Platyhelmithes, ectoparasitic arthropods of mammals and Protistans of animals.

Original scientific research, based in part on the collections, is conducted by the Curator of the HWML and by members of the museum staff, by faculty members of the University of Nebraska, by visiting scholars, by students at the University of Nebraska and by scholars throughout the world. Specimens in the collection are available for study under normal Museum security procedures. Data based on the collections is considered proprietary. Contract or commercial users may be charged a fee.


I. Methods of access.


The HWML provides access to its collections in a number of ways, among which are the following:

A.By responding to written or verbal research inquiries or general questions.

B.By lending materials to institutions or to their representatives, or individuals for research, educational, or exhibit purposes.

C.By physical access to collections areas and items.

D.By remote access to collection specimens and or data.



II. Authorized Personnel


Access to the HWML’s collections is not an inherent right of the general public. The HWML attempts to comply with all serious requests for access to the collection, but the collection is not open to random browsing. For the security of the collection, the HWML limits access to curatorial and other appropriate staff personnel and to authorized visitors, subject to the decision of the Curator.


A.Appropriate Staff Personnel. Appropriate staff personnel are defined as those who need access to the collections areas to carry out their duties and responsibilities. The Curator will authorize access based on the guidelines in the following paragraph.

B.Authorized Visitors/Students. The Curator or representatives authorized by the Curator may allow access to particular collections. Determination of access will be based on guidelines in the following paragraph.


The Curator may arrange special visits to the collection by visitors when authorized staff are present to supervise the visitors. Visitors are not to be given unauthorized access to the collection area. When an individual’s need for access necessitates issue of a key to the collection area, approval must be given by the Curator.


III. Guidelines for Determining Need For Access


The foremost purpose for theses guidelines is to protect the collection. It is essential that persons using the collection be reliable, responsible, mature and versed in specimen handling. The collections must be protected as much as possible from improper handling, breakage, accidental damage, and misplacement as from theft or intentional damage.


A. Evaluation of Need


1. Does the individual need access to the collection material or to laboratory space?

2. Does the individual need access to the entire collection or only to selected portions?


B. Evaluation of the Individual


1. Has the individual demonstrated reliability in handling specimens with care?

2. Has the individual demonstrated reliability in maintaining general security of the area?

3. Has the individual demonstrated reliability in complying with museum procedures?

4. Is the individual conducting research and/or sponsored by an accredited institution?


C. Individual Considerations for the Collection


1. Can the individual schedule work during hours when the collection is staffed and/or have the permission to work after normal hours by being given a key?


D. Keys


1.  The Curator will authorize key issue, key check-out and access to the HWML and to Nebraska Hall where the Collection is stored.


IV. Collections Goals


The HWML recognizes the need to continue to influence and support both the scientific community through research and educational activities, and the public through education.

The collection is of regional, national and international significance and is used extensively in research, identification services, and educational activities. The collections can and will be improved through the selective addition of new materials. The financial aspects of fulfilling the HWML’s continuing obligation to preserve, maintain, and use the collection also necessitate occasional restrictions in access to the collection.

The collection contains more than 90,000 glass microscope slides of specimens and more than 16,000 individual vials. Each vial or slide may have several specimens; especially the vials, which in some cases have hundreds or thousands of specimens in each. There are 33,641 collection numbers assigned as of March 2004, with each collection number representing an average of 10 lots per number. There are more than 2,700 species represented with more than 2000 paratypes and over 200 holotypes. 284 donor names are on file in the collection and donors include Dr. Harold W. Manter, whose collection of parasites from waters around Australia, Fiji, the Galapagos Islands, New Caledonia, New Zealand and the North American continent formed the nucleus of the collection. The collections are worldwide in scope with emphasis on helmiths of marine and freshwater fishes and helmiths and ectoparasites from mammals and other vertebrates of the Nearctic and Neotropical Regions. The HWML contains major collections contributed by O. Amin, D.R. Brooks, W.L. Bullock, R.M. Cable, D. Gettinger, D.C. Kritsky. R.E. Kuntz, S.L. Loewen, A.J. MacInnis, J.S. Mackiewicz, R.W. Macy, M.A. Mayes, J.E. McCauley, M.E. McDonald, G.C. Miller, J.D. Mizelle, S.C. Schell, J.T. Self, F. Sogandares-Bernal, L.D. Hendricks, I. Kanev Stoyanov, O.W. Olsen, R.L. Rausch, G.D. Schmidt, R.M. Stabler, J. Theodorides, D.E. Worley, the University of Minnesota and the mammalian biodiversity survey of Bolivia.

The HWML also includes more than 110,000 reprints, 9000 books and numerous journals in the Parasitology library that have been donated to the HWML by many contributors. All books and journals are on a paper card catalog, which will be on-line soon.

The HWML has space limitations that require it to be selective in its acquisitions. Goals of the HWML in collection development are to not only strengthen areas in which it has a current specialization, but also to broaden the comparative base of established collections. The need to have a wide variety of samples becomes ever more acute as species and/or their hosts become extinct due to anthropogenic events. The extensive research done by the present curator in Bolivia underscores this need, as many representative samples may now only exist in the HWML and no longer in the wild.

The acquisition of materials may sometimes be opportunistic. Collections of importance or of national or international significance may unexpectedly become available from institutions or individuals that are no longer willing or able to preserve, maintain, and use them in research and educational activities. Acceptance of responsibility for such a collection may involve establishing a new interest area for the HWML. Acquisition and accessioning of such collections must be judged on their individual merits, carefully weighing the values and costs of such accessions against evolving programs and emphases of the HWML.



V. Acquisition Policy


The HWML acquires specimens for the collection by gift, bequest, field collection, abandonment, or other appropriate means. Because of its trust responsibility to maintain and to preserve objects in perpetuity for the public, the HWML will accept and acquire only those items for which it can provide proper care, storage and conservation.

Every reasonable effort will be made to ensure that items considered for acquisition have been collected and imported in full compliance with Federal laws and regulations of the USA and of individual states and territories. Specimens of endangered species collected before endangered status was designated can and will be accepted in accord with federal guidelines.  Agreements made between the HWML, (of the UNSM, and UNL) with countries and sovereign states will be honored.

Title to all specimens shall be obtained free and clear, without restrictions as to use, exhibition, loan, dispersal or future disposition. Some specimens without data may be used in consumable activities such as hands-on educational activities.

All acquisitions shall be documented by an accession form signed by the Curator, with copies to be filed in the HWML and with the donor (who returns a signed copy of the accession form to ratify the donation). Implicit and explicit in the donation is the understanding that the donor transfers ownership to the HWML and agrees that the item may be integrated into the existing collection and may be used in any way.


1.Commencement of Ownership


A.Field Collection: Specimens, along with copies of field notes, collected in the field by the Curator and by staff members during university financed trips are the property of the HWML unless otherwise restricted according to permits issued prior to the collection. Ownership commences following collection of the specimen. The Curator will incorporate relevant specimens into the collection and put the field notes or archival quality copies into a secure location.

B.Gifts/ Bequests: The HWML is considered to own the item when 1. the donor form has been executed legally, 2. the specimen physically enters the HWML


VI. Registration and Accessions




The HWML has a responsibility to the specimens to which it has acquired legal title and owns without restriction.


2.Records and Field Notes


Records form an integral part of the specimen’s history and are of primary importance. Records also provide the means by which the HWML establishes its right to legally possess an item. Careful and explicit record keeping allows the HWML to know a specimen’s history, condition, location and to systematically classify and catalog specimens.

Collection records should be made in a timely fashion, housed in secure locations and physically preserved by proper handling and storage methods. Computer records require multiple copy back-ups performed frequently and housed in separate locations for security.





Registration of objects involves compiling and maintaining a cumulative inventory of all the specimens in the HWML’s possession. This includes providing an immediate and permanent means of identifying each object and recording its source, status and disposition.


A.Accessioning: the act of recording and/or processing an addition to the permanent collections which: 1) gives the HWML legal title to the specimen 2) commits the HWML to the responsibility for the proper care and use of the specimen.

B.Loans: the process of contracting for borrowing and lending of objects, for temporary or extended period between the HWML and other responsible institutions or individuals. Loaning/borrowing is undertaken under terms of a loan agreement which 1) forms the contract between lender and borrower and 2) specifies terms and conditions of the loan including the respective responsibilities of each party.




Accessioning: the creation of an immediate and permanent records utilizing a control number for each specimen or group of specimens added to the collection from the same source at the same time and for which the HWML has custody, right or title. An accession record includes among other data the accession number, date and nature of the acquisition, scientific information, collector and identifier and location of the discovery.

As soon as a specimen is accepted as part of the HWML’s permanent collection, it shall be accessioned by the Curator, Collection Manager by completing the standard accession forms. Three copies of the form are created and signed by the Curator, one to remain immediately in the HWML; two to be sent to the donor, with one copy returned, with the donor’s signature, to the HWML


VII. Loans


1. Loans are temporary physical transfers of specimens from one institution or individual where there is no transfer of ownership. The HWML makes loans for the purpose of research, exhibition or instruction. Loaning is undertaken only under terms of a loan agreement which 1) forms a contract between lender and borrower and 2) specifies terms and conditions of the loan including the time frame of the loan. Loans are made in the HWML to responsible individuals. Loans are made at the discretion of the Curator.

2. When type specimens are loaned, safety of the specimen is a special consideration. Borrowers must return the specimen in the same manner in which they were sent unless otherwise agreed on. Paratypes are loaned only when more than one exists in the collection. Holotypes are not loaned. Length of the loan is usually for one year, but may be extended at the Curator’s discretion. Loans will be marked that they are scientific specimens and have no commercial value and will be sent by US mail, courier, or hand-carried.

3. Loan agreements follow the same procedure as accession agreements with three copies of the loan form being made and signed by the Curator. One copy remains in the HWML; two copies are sent to the borrower with one copy to be returned to the HWML with the borrower’s signature upon receipt of the specimen(s).

4. In the case of inter-institution loans the same procedures are followed, as are in-house loans. In this manner a record can be kept of activity in the HWML that is necessary for the purposes of grant application.

5. The HWML will not lend where there exists a significant risk to the safety of the specimen; where there exists a reasonable doubt of the specimen’s ability to withstand travel, climatic changes or circumstances of storage in the receiving institution.  The HWML will not loan to an institution or individuals that have demonstrated an inability to properly handle and care for the specimen(s) on loan. The Curator has the final authority on any loan.

6. Loans will normally be for a one year period but can be renewed at the Curator’s discretion.

7. The HWML may recall a loan for any reason with a thirty days written notification. Immediate action will be taken if care of the items fail to meet the conditions of the loan.

8. Mailing costs for outgoing loans are usually paid for by the HWML Incoming material is paid for by the sender. In exceptional cases, institutions borrowing from the HWML must pay packing, shipping and related costs as requested by the HWML


VIII. Destructive Sampling Protocol

Many specimens in the parasite collections that are maintained in the Division of Parasitology have been obtained during field-work in which both morphology and molecular systematic methods were considered at time of collection. Other specimens in the collections were obtained before the discovery of the utility of DNA sequences that enable our understanding that DNA analysis is of extreme import in the study of evolutionary or genetic relationships among species, populations, or individuals and many times specimens were collected using non-buffered formalin, which destroys DNA by breaking the strands into very small bits that are not recoverable.


The HWML encourages the use of specimens in the collections to further the study of biodiversity and systematics. To that end if a borrower of a specimen needs to dissect a specimen to look at a specific morphological structure or he/she requires DNA be extracted from a part of the specimen for an analysis, a proposal must be submitted to the curator of the Manter Laboratory Collections that outlines the methods that will be used to both conserve the specimens for future use and to insure that the specimen will have a record that it existed before it was used up for a molecular or a morphological protocol. Because specimens in the collections are non-renewable and specimens may be extremely limited, requests for destructive sampling may be denied by the curator.


The proposal must include the reasons for the proposed sampling and the expected outcomes of the proposed work the proposal will be evaluated using the following:


1) Each request will be considered in a case by case basis because each request will be different and we will weigh several factors in evaluating the proposed work. These will include the number of remaining specimens, how destructive is the sampling (is it a morphological specimen with 2 or 3 replicates or we do have more), expected value of the proposed study, and if the sample is used up how it may hinder future research.
2) The main consideration in use of material from the Parasite Genomic Research Facility (PGRF) is the value, impact, and feasibility of the proposed project, while taking into account the commonness of the specimens in the HWML collections as compared to elsewhere in the parasite museum community.
3) Requests for any use of HWML or and PGRF samples represents an explicit acknowledgment that the researcher making the requests for specimens supports the legitimate collecting of scientific specimens, and that he/she values the time and effort that goes into collecting, preparing, and maintaining museum collections.



See pdf files of accession forms, loan forms, and other data.




Manter Laboratory of Parasitology

University of Nebraska State Museum
W529 Nebraska Hall
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0514 U.S.A.

Dr. Scott L. Gardner, Curator


Gabor Racz
Manter Laboratory of Parasitology
University of Nebraska State Museum
W529 Nebraska Hall
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0514 U.S.A.