Zoology is the scientific study of animals, covering the incredible diversity of invertebrates (such as spiders, insects, snails, clams, and worms) and vertebrates (fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals).
The Zoology collections at the Manitoba Museum are an irreplaceable archive of Manitoban animals that span over 125 years. Numbering well over 120,000 specimens, they include significant provincial holdings of butterflies and moths, mammals, molluscs, and birds. Collections of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles are more modest, as are holdings from outside the province. The Zoology collections are a resource for researchers around the world, and form the basis of Museum exhibits and interpretation.
Over the years, research by zoologists at the Manitoba Museum has included work on butterflies, snails, frogs, and mammals. Much of this earlier research recorded geographic distributions (finding out where animals live), though this work is still incomplete – much of Manitoba is difficult to survey effectively.
Recent research has not only recorded distributions, but has examined the evolutionary history of species and populations. Colour and genetic variation in red-sided garter snakes, the nature of the northern contact zone between Canadian and American toads, and shape and genetic differences among three-spined sticklebacks are projects that help clarify how Manitoba’s animals came to be living where they are today.
Understanding where and how animals live provides baseline data necessary for responsible environmental stewardship. Accurate knowledge of animal distribution can monitor impacts of climate change and human activities, and help maintain the health of the environment and ourselves.
The Ridings’ satyr (Neominois ridingsii) is a short-grass prairie species that has not been seen in Manitoba since the early 1950s. You can see examples of this species (collected from elsewhere) in the Prairies Gallery. Image © Manitoba Museum
Great Plains toad (Anaxyrus cognatus) calling to attract females, found near Melita, Manitoba while conducting population surveys. This is a threatened species in the province. Image © R. D. Mooi
A plains spadefoot toad (Spea bombifrons) discovered while surveying amphibian populations near Melita, Manitoba. It occurs only in the southwestern corner of the province. Image © R.D. Mooi
Curator of Zoology, Dr. Randall Mooi, collecting spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) during a very cool night in May near the Matheson Island ferry terminal. Image © P. Taylor
Skull and lower jaw of a 50 kg cougar (Puma concolor) from the Turtle Mountain area of Manitoba. Image © Manitoba Museum
Plains bison (Bison bison bison) head from the original Pablo-Allard herd purchased by the Canadian government, the beginning of the successful conservation of this species. Image © Manitoba Museum
Osprey eggs, one of over 300 sets of eggs of North American species from early- to mid-20th century in the Oswald Collection. Image © Manitoba Museum
Male passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) from Winnipegosis, Manitoba, 1898. This is the last known specimen collected in Canada of this now-extinct species. It can be seen on exhibit in the Prairies Gallery. Image © Manitoba Museum