Gilbert and Nancy Voss Marine Invertebrate Collection

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The Gilbert and Nancy Voss Marine Invertebrate Collection is an internationally recognized, CITES-certified research museum for Atlantic tropical marine invertebrates. The collections, which have few rivals as to number, geographic and vertical ranges of Atlantic tropical species, are of exceptional value as research, teaching, reference and data resources because of their comprehensive nature and the fact that the major portion of the material has been and continues to be identified by leading specialists from around the world. The collections consist of ca 132,753 lots (belonging to 23 phyla), of which at present 86,130 samples are cataloged and identified to species, with most of the remaining lots identified to order or family. The collections include 628 type samples. The museum holdings include the macro-invertebrates taken during the 1963–71, National Geographic Society (NGS)/NSF funded Deep-sea Biology Program and the subsequent 1972–76, NSF-funded expeditions, during which the pelagic and benthic communities from the abyssal to the epipelagic and inner shelf zones were sampled at 1,309 stations from the Gulf of Panama, and throughout the Caribbean to the Gulf of Guinea. and at 2,062 stations over the entire extents of the Straits of Florida, the Bahamas, including its deep basins and the deep waters to the east of the Bahamas, and the area northward to the Bermudas (view maps).

Additionally the museum contains the Florida reef collections made during the 1961–63, NGS-supported reef ecology study and the 1980–81, NOAA baseline surveys of the flora and fauna of the Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the National Marine Sanctuary. Among the many other collections in the museum are those from the St. John, Virgin Island survey, the 1966–67 biological survey for the Panama Interoceanic Sealevel Canal, the 1961 Argosy Expedition to the eastern tropical Pacific (Gulf of Panama to Gulf of Guayaquil), the oil pollution surveys of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico and other areas in the Caribbean, two early sponge surveys (1947, 1948) of the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Keys, and the large FL/Carib/ETPac marine mollusk collections of the early naturalist C.T. Simpson and the geologist/paleobiologist A. Olsson.

The large collections from the extensive surveys of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean by US Fish and Wildlife Service vessels are well represented in our holdings, as are the tropical collections of a number of other research vessels. Recent notable acquisitions to the museum include the coral collections from Peter Glynn’s (RSMAS) 1970s reef studies in the eastern tropical Pacific, Samoa, Guam and Oman, the corals from his 1999-2005 Easter Island studies, and the corals and other invertebrates from his, and his students', continuing reef studies in the eastern tropical Pacific; Donald Moore’s (RSMAS) extensive micromollusk slide collection from Florida, South and Central America, the Caribbean and Bahamas; a representative collection of the amphipods of Venezuela from a recent Venezuelan marine biodiversity project; the invertebrates (except for mollusks) taken during the 2001–2004 cruises of the R/V Bellows and R/V Suncoaster (Anton Oleinik, Florida Atlantic University) in the Straits of Florida east of the Bahamas and off of the Florida Keys; the invertebrates from several recent (2003–2006, RSMAS and UM Biology Dept.) studies in the Bahamas; and the large caridean shrimp collection from the western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and the eastern tropical Pacific from the 2009–2010 molecular systematic studies of Antonio Baeza (formerly STRI).

As the repository for one of the most comprehensive and diverse collections of tropical Atlantic marine invertebrates and highly representative collections from the eastern tropical Pacific, coupled with the recent use of molecular techniques and interests in phylogenetics, biodiversity, biocomplexity, conservation, responsible management and sustainable use of marine resources and the search for natural marine products, the Marine Invertebrate Museum presently plays, and will increasingly play, a valuable and irreplaceable role in ongoing and future research and teaching in these fields at RSMAS, University of Miami, other U.S. institutions, and at Caribbean, South and Central American institutions.  The museum currently collaborates with marine biodiversity projects of Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela, and others worldwide.  

Contact Information

Maria M. Criales, PhD
Marine Invertebrate Collection Manager
MBE, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
University of Miami
4600 Rickenbacker Causeway
Miami, FL 33149
Telephone: (305) 421-4073
Fax: (305) 421-4600