The Colorado Plateau Biodiversity Center’s (CPBC) seven divisions maintain more than 50 individual collections, which contain more than one-half million specimens. With the assistance of both student and volunteer curators, 16 faculty curators oversee these seven divisions.

Division I: Quaternary Paleoecology

The Quaternary Paleoecology Division is housed by the Quaternary Science Program Lab of Paleoecology and contains both fossil and modern pollen and other plant materials. The modern collections are critical to the interpretation of fossil specimens and lots. Taken together the division’s collections include more than 20,000 specimens, which are used primarily for research.

  • Palynology Collection
  • Modern Macro Collection
  • Modern Wood Collection
  • Macrobotanical Collection (Fossil Packrat Midden Collection, Fossil Hyrax Midden Collection, and Modern Macrobotanical Collection)
Division Website>>
Division II: Botany

The Botany Division, which is housed by the Deaver Herbarium, contains modern plant specimens documenting contemporary Colorado Plateau plant species and comparative specimens from around the world. The botany collections contain almost 100,000 fully prepared specimens and several thousand specimens still to be cataloged. The Botany Division’s collections are used for both research and teaching.

The Botany Division also maintains the university’s teaching greenhouse to provide living plant material for a number of biology laboratory courses. This 2,500-ft2 facility provides specific habitats such as hot dry deserts and cool moist cloud forest, including habitat conditions that support extensive collections of orchids and succulents from the tropics worldwide. Aquatic plants are housed in the facility’s two ponds, which are also home to breeding tree frogs.

  • Vascular Plant Collection
  • Bryophyte Collection
  • Lichen Collection

     Living Collections

  • Epiphyte Collection
  • Succulent Collection
  • Other Living Stock Collection
Division Website>>
Division III: Marine Invertebrates and Molluscs
The Museum of Marine Invertebrates and Molluscs at Northern Arizona University is a teaching and research collection of preserved, dried, and mounted specimens. This collection was originally established by Stanley A. Wilkes in the early 1970s and has been maintained by Stephen M. Shuster since 1990. Specimens from the northern Gulf of California and the western coast of North America form the core of the collection. However, specimens from eastern North America, the Caribbean Sea, the tropical Pacific islands, and the southwestern United States are also well represented in the collection. In 2010, more than 600 marine and freshwater mollusc shells, which made up the Lois Richards Shell Collection, were added to the museum. The total collection now includes nearly 6,000 specimens.
Division IV: Arthropods

Division IV encompasses a huge diversity of arthropod taxa from the Colorado Plateau as well as comparative specimens from around the world. The Division’s collection contains more than 250,000 arthropod specimens, which are housed at the Colorado Plateau Museum of Arthropod Biodiversity. The collection emphasizes insects (Hexapoda) but includes many spiders, scorpions (Arachnida), and centipedes and millipedes (Myriopoda). The collection is used for research, teaching, and public outreach.

  • Arthropod Collection (Hexapods, Myriopods, and Arachnids)


Division Website>>
Division V: Vertebrates

The Vertebrate Division includes modern vertebrate animal specimens that document contemporary animal species diversity of the Colorado Plateau as well as comparative specimens from around the world. The Vertebrate Division’s collections are used for both research and teaching.

  • Mammal Collection
  • Ornithological Collection
  • Herpetological Collection
  • Ichthyology Collection


Division Website>>
Division VI: Fungi

The Fungi Division contains modern fungi specimens that document contemporary Colorado Plateau fungal species. Collections include dried specimens, wet tissue samples, and DNA samples that are used for both research and teaching. The Fungi Division houses some of the newest of the CPBC’s collections and is working to rapidly expand its collections.

  • Mycorrhizal Fungal Collection
  • Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungal Spore Collection
  • Mushroom Collection
  • Endophytic Fungal Collection
Division: VII Environmental Genomics and Genetics

The Environmental Genomics and Genetics Division collections are housed in the Environmental Genomics and Genetics Laboratory (EnGGen). Specimens have been provided by the university’s many research programs and may include collateral materials from the CPBC’s other divisions, which usually consist of tissue samples that are stored in ultracold freezers. The Botanical Tissue Collection primarily contains specimens waiting to be sequenced; these specimens will enter the permanent DNA Collection after they are sequenced. The DNA Collection is catalogued and permanently accessioned.

  • Botanical Tissue Collection
  • DNA Collection

Division Website>>