Photo: Dennis Wise/University of Washington
Photo: Dennis Wise/University of Washington

Mammalogy at the Burke Museum

The Burke Museum Mammal Collection supports research, education and outreach related to mammals. 

With more than 55,000 specimens, the Mammal Collection is among the largest in the Pacific Northwest. It is also one of the oldest collections in the region, having been founded in 1899 as part of the original Washington State Museum.

Today, the collection ranks as the 10th largest university collection in North America and the 18th largest collection in the Western Hemisphere.

Search the Collection

The Mammalogy Collection database includes over 55,000 specimen records.

Mammalogy Database

wide shot of the mammalogy collections share showing shelves of mounted and some stuffed mammals
Photo: Rachel Ormiston/Burke Museum
Photo: Rachel Ormiston/Burke Museum

What’s in the Collection?

The collection includes mammal specimens from all continents except Antarctica, and it has a strong emphasis in the Pacific Northwest. Over half of our specimens are from Washington state with good representation also from Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska.

Of the 55,000 cataloged specimens in the Mammal Collection, more than:

  • 29,000 include a skin (typically a study skin, but sometimes flat or live-mount skins)
  • 40,000 include a skull
  • 8,000 include a complete skeleton
  • 1,000 are preserved in fluid
  • 9,000 have a frozen tissue sample archived in the Burke's Genetic Resources Collection
a group of women use head lamps while collecting data on bats in the field

Our Research

Mammals have evolved an extraordinary diversity in form, function, and life habits, but some groups of mammals are more diverse than others. 

Our research is led by Dr. Sharlene Santana, Burke Museum Curator of Mammals, and focuses on understanding how disparities in mammalian diversity arise. We approach this task by doing comparative studies of the morphology, performance, behavior and ecology of mammals to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms leading to radiation.

We combine traditional and cutting-edge tools to study specimens, including micro-CT and laser scanning, dissections, 3D morphometrics, biomechanical modeling, and phylogenetic comparative methods.

Santana Lab

University of Washington Courses

Mammalogy collections and staff play an important role in undergraduate and graduate education within the UW’s College of Arts and Sciences, and especially the Department of Biology.

Photo: Sharlene Santana/Burke Museum
Photo: Sharlene Santana/Burke Museum

Questions & Answers

We’ve pulled together some common questions and answers related to the Burke Museum Mammalogy Collection. Do you have a question that isn’t answered in the list below? Contact us.  

The Burke Museum is moving to a brand new facility! In order to unpack and prepare for opening, the mammalogy collections are currently closed.

We greatly appreciate the community's patience while we move our collections to their new home. The New Burke will open to the public in October 2019.

Questions? Contact us.

The Burke Mammal Collection provides loans of skins, skulls, skeletons and fluid-preserved specimens to the global nonprofit research community. For more information, view our Loan Policy (PDF) and contact us.

Yes, mammalogy staff will attempt to identify mammals or parts of mammal specimens found by researchers or members of the public.

To request specimen identification, please use the Burke's Object Identification Request Form and include one or more photographs that show the whole individual or part to be identified, ideally alongside a ruler or another object for scale. 

Questions? Contact us.

Mammal specimens arrive at the Burke from a variety of sources. Some are found dead, some are donated by U.S. Fish & Wildlife, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, local Zoos, or other wildlife organizations. Specimens are also collected by scientists during field research.

The Burke Museum welcomes salvaged specimen donations under the following conditions:

  • Please deliver specimens within a sealed container (i.e. plastic bag).
  • Inside the container, include a note indicating the date and location found (i.e. city/town), as well as how the specimen(s) came into your possession.
  • If possible, please ensure that specimens are either frozen or in otherwise good condition when delivered.
  • Please note that the Burke Museum cannot accept living specimens, nor can we provide monetary appraisals for any wildlife product. 

Salvaged specimens may be delivered to the Burke Museum non-public business entrance — which is located at the northeast corner of the building and can be accessed via the intercom outside the door. 

Deliveries are accepted without an appointment between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays, though please contact Burke Mammalogy if accommodation beyond this timeframe is needed.

We couldn’t do what we do without volunteers! Visit our Volunteer page for more information about Burke Museum volunteer opportunities and to view current openings.

Our Team

Meet the people within the Burke Museum Mammalogy team.

Our Team

Have a general inquiry?

Contact Us

Photo: Sharlene Santana/Burke Museum
Photo: Sharlene Santana/Burke Museum
a woman and man stand in the jungle of south america while doing bat research

Support Mammalogy

Your gift makes it possible! We couldn't do what we do without generous donor support for collections care, research and public outreach. 

Photo: Dennis Wise/University of Washington
Photo: Dennis Wise/University of Washington