About the OSIC

OSIC Curator Brian Sidlauskas, dressed in the guise of ichthyologists past

History of the Oregon State Ichthyology Collection

Originally established as a teaching collection in 1935 by what would become the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, the Oregon State Ichthyology Collection (OSIC) quickly developed into a major center for research on the freshwater fishes of the Pacific Northwest under the care of Professors Roland Dimick and Carl Bond. Recognizing the importance of the collection and the inadequacy of the original space allocations (first in an annex to the poultry science building, then in the basements of home economics and agricultural engineering, and later in the kitchen of a former dormitory!), the University established a permanent home for the collection with the construction of Nash Hall in 1974, including a 1920 square foot hall with fixed shelving, two prep rooms and several associated laboratories and offices. The collection continued to expand rapidly over the next 15 years under the care of Dr. Bond and his successor, Dr. Douglas Markle, who established collections of fishes from desert Oregon, including a substantial freshwater larval collection. Large series of marine larvae were also established and formed the basis for important descriptions of early life history and morphology of Pacific fishes. In 1991 the Nash Hall collection absorbed a separate marine collection that had been housed in the School of Oceanography (now CEOAS), and the combined holdings established Oregon State University as one of the most important ichthyological resources in the Pacific Northwest.

In 2009, Dr. Brian Sidlauskas took over as curator and subsequently received a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Biological Research Collections program to upgrade physical facilities and computerize the collection’s database. Combined with funding from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, this grant allowed us to rehouse the OSIC in a new state-of-the-art facility that meets modern fire and earthquake safety codes and allows room for substantial acquisition of new specimens. With the help of a team of talented undergraduates, we completed the move of the collection into its new home in 2011, as shown in this gallery of photos. The collection is now open to visitation and use by all interested researchers!

As another component of the NSF grant, we digitized the collection’s database in a custom Specify 6 installation. You can search and browse our holdings through this website as well through FishNet2, GBIF and VertNet.

Overview of Holdings

The collection’s database includes over 19000 cataloged lots, of which nearly all are computerized and approximately 70% are georeferenced. The average lot size is 11 individuals, yielding an estimate of over 200,000 cataloged specimens. Approximately 15,000 additional lots exist in an uncataloged backlog, including extensive series of larval fishes from the north Pacific, larval fishes from desert Oregon and the uncataloged portion of the original Oceanography collection. Counting the backlog, the research collection holds approximately 34,000 lots and more than 300,000 individuals.

The collection is comprehensive for freshwater species from Oregon and extensive for North Pacific species. The collection includes more far-flung specimens from Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guyana, Hawaii, India, Japan, Lake Baikal, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, Trinidad and Zambia. The collection also holds a rare series of freshwater fishes from Iran, which formed the basis of Neil Armantrout’s doctoral dissertation in 1980 and supported the development of an online identification guide to Iranian fishes. More than 2400 species in 1245 genera and 337 families are represented among the OSIC’s holdings.