Collection Policies

Access to the collection is open to qualified visitors, researchers and students. In addition to its own collection policies, the Department of Malacology adheres to the general MCZ policies and procedures.

A limited amount of funding is available for researchers to use the collections. The Museum of Comparative Zoology periodically awards Ernst Mayr Grants to systematists who need to make short museum visits in order to undertake research needed for the completion of taxonomic revisions and monographs.


  1. Loan requests from faculty and staff of universities, museums, and scientific organizations will be considered. Students may borrow specimens only through their advisors. All loans are considered to be the responsibility of the institution with which the borrower is affiliated.
  2. Loans will be made for scientific and educational purposes only.
  3. All specimens and parts thereof must be returned to the MCZ.
  4. All labels must stay with the specimens at all times. Never discard any pieces of paper found with specimens, even if paper appears to be blank. Any new labels added should be dated and signed, and should be on label quality paper, using permanent ink or pencil.
  5. All specimens on loan must be kept in the preserving fluid in which they were received, unless permission to change medium is granted.
  6. Permission must be granted before any of the following procedures are performed on MCZ specimens: dissection; preparation for SEM; making permanent microscopic slides; DNA analysis; clearing & staining; any other destructive procedure.
  7. Non-type material may be lent for six months to one year. Loans of type material will be made for six months from date of receipt, and will be limited to six lots per loan.
  8. Credit for any use of MCZ material should be given in resulting publications, and reprints should be sent to the Department of Malacology.
  9. All type specimens must be returned via registered mail to: 

Department of Malacology
Museum of Comparative Zoology 
Harvard University 
26 Oxford Street 
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

Destructive Sampling

In order to balance the need to preserve specimens for future use with the need to conduct appropriate research, the following guidelines will be used in making decisions about use of MCZ specimens:
  1. The term "destructive sampling" applies to any procedure done with an MCZ specimen that results in the alteration of the condition of the specimen. This includes dissections, SEM preparations, molecular or chemical analyses, mounting or remounting of specimens on microscope slides, clearing or staining, removal of parasites or commensals.
  2. All requests for destructive sampling will be made in writing, and will contain the following information:
    1. What specimens are needed.
    2. What will be done to the specimens.
    3. How it will be done.
    4. Why it is necessary.
  3. During any destructive procedure, as much of the specimen as possible will be kept in the original condition.
  4. Any material remaining after the analysis will be returned to the MCZ. This includes:
    1. The specimens and all dissected parts. Detached parts should be housed in microvials or other appropriate containers, and included in the container with the dissected specimen. Care should be taken that the separate vial does not damage other specimens in the container.
    2. SEM stubs.
  5. Specimens mounted or remounted on microscope slides should be labeled with specimen data. The date, mounting medium, and name of person mounting the specimen should be recorded on the slide. All original slide labels should be preserved and placed on the new slide.
  6. Decisions to grant or not grant permission for destructive sampling will be based on:
    1. Uniqueness of the specimen. Any procedure that will destroy either holotypes, or specimens of endangered species, will be denied.
    2. Degree of destruction.
    3. Significance of research.