The impact of prolonged frozen storage on the preparation quality of bird skins and skeletons in zoological collections



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Title: The impact of prolonged frozen storage on the preparation quality of bird skins and skeletons in zoological collections
Authors: Consorci del Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona
Martínez-Vargas, Jessica
Roqué Roqué, Laura
Canto, Irene del
Carrillo-Ortiz, José
Orta, Carles
Quesada, Javier
Issue Date: 20-Apr-2021
Keywords: Ocells
Col·leccions de ciències naturals
Conservació d'espècimens zoològics
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Extent: 34 p.
Abstract: Specimens from zoological collections play a pivotal role in improving scientific knowledge in many natural science disciplines. To guarantee an optimum state of conservation and ensure their usefulness, the preparation process employed is crucial. Skins and skeletons are key elements in vertebrate scientific collections and, ideally, are prepared from recently deceased animals; however, specimens are often stored in a frozen state for a long time (years) prior to preparation. Whether the duration of this frozen state has a deleterious effect on preparation quality has rarely been studied. The main objective of this study was thus to contribute towards research into zoological preparation by testing to see whether prolonged frozen storage hinders the preparation of bird skins and skeletons. We used the common buzzard (Buteo buteo) and the barn owl (Tyto alba) as biological models. Our results showed that long-term frozen storage led to weight loss, bone marrow acidification and solidification, and hampered skin preparation. The necropsy affected weight loss and decreased the skin tear resistance, probably due to tissue dehydration. Thus, prolonged frozen storage appears to have a harmful effect on the preparation quality of vertebrate specimens. Since frozen storage could ultimately have an impact on the conservation and scientific use of museum specimens, practices should be implemented to minimise the amount of time specimens are frozen or to mitigate any detrimental effects. More importance should be attached to research on zoological preparation since it is fundamental for optimising the quality, conservation status, and value of museum collections.
Terms of use details: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in The Science of Nature. The final authenticated version is available online at
Appears in Collections:Vertebrats / Articles

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