Biodiversity Acquisition Policy (2008)


The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is the leading repository of natural history collections in Tasmania. Collections fall under three main categories: botany (the Tasmanian Herbarium), vertebrate zoology and invertebrate zoology. The TMAG collections are a unique specimen-based record of the State’s biodiversity.

The collections serve as taxonomic reference specimens, vouchers for biogeographical data and include irreplaceable heritage and historical items.

They also underpin a wide range of scientific, economic, historical, cultural and educational activities undertaken in Tasmania, nationally and internationally. We aim to make the biodiversity information, inherent in the State collection, available to all stakeholders.

The collections currently comprise in excess of 375,000 objects, distributed between the major categories in the following manner: 250,000 (Herbarium), 15,000 (Vertebrate Zoology) and 110,000 (Invertebrate Zoology) Broad Objectives:

  • To maintain and develop a comprehensive collection of preserved specimens of plants and animals that underpins the generation and dissemination of collection-based scientific knowledge of Tasmania's biodiversity.
  • To record data for the specimens in accordance to internationally recognised protocols and standards.
  • To fulfil obligations as the statutory repository for specimens collected under various State and Commonwealth regulations.

Collecting Targets:

  • Specimens that reflect the diversity, range of variation, and geographical distribution of the terrestrial plants and animals of Tasmania, including its offshore islands and territories.
  • Specimens that reflect the diversity, range of variation and geographical distribution of the terrestrial plants and animals of the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic regions.
  • Specimens that reflect the diversity, variation and geographical distribution of Tasmanian and Southern Ocean marine faunas and floras.
  • Specimens that underpin Tasmania's unique terrestrial flora, fauna and geographical location; for example material of the thylacine, Tasmanian devil, marine mammals, Southern Ocean seabirds, species with Gondwanan origins etc.
    Specimens that support priority taxonomic research interests.
  • Representative collections from related areas, especially the remainder of Antarctica and the cool temperate regions of the Southern Hemisphere.
    Collections that underpin the identification service, especially with respect to weeds and other non-native (introduced) organisms.
    Poorly known groups, new taxa and new records for Tasmania.
  • Specimens of rare or endangered taxa, especially from previously unknown locations.
  • Specimens from poorly explored regions of Tasmania.
  • Collections that assist in public programs.
  • Specimens for exchange with other organisations.
  • Tasmanian type material

Acquisition strategy:

Specimens are acquired:

  • through the collecting efforts of TMAG staff and associates;
  • as donations from the public, other researchers and institutions; and
  • through exchange with other institutions.
Specimens from all taxonomic groups are generally accepted, but due to lack of in- house expertise in certain taxonomic areas, material from some groups may not be actively pursued.

New accessions must:

  • be accompanied, at a minimum, by collection data including all basic details of provenance, collector name and date of collection,
  • be in good condition,
  • be able to be housed adequately,
  • provide life history information and/or be reproductively mature and therefore
  • follow collection targets as listed above.

The ultimate decision on what constitutes an acceptable specimen rests with the discretion of the relevant curator who is a member of the permanent staff of TMAG.

All accessions are integrated into the systematic arrangement of the main collection and become the sole responsibility of the TMAG.