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 are an irreplaceable archive of animals that spans over 125 years. Numbering almost 100,000 specimens, they include significant provincial holdings of butterflies and moths (38,000), mammals (20,000), molluscs (4,300) and birds (4,000). Collections of fishes and 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 distribution (finding out where animals live), though it is still incomplete.
Recent research has focused on northern areas, not only recording distributions, but also examining the relationships of species and populations to explore their evolutionary history. 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 will 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.