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Naturhistoriska riksmuseet (NRM)

Collections & Expertise

Access is available to NRM’s extensive and scientifically important biological, paleontological and geological collections. These collections are large in their taxonomic, temporal and spatial breadth, and are characterised and distinguished from other collections by several specific areas of strength: Very strong collections from high-latitude and Polar Regions; Rich collections from tropical regions especially South America Unique type and special-purpose collections (e.g. Linné Herbarium); Environmental Specimen Bank.

The collections are organised into nine core collections reflecting the primary scientific disciplines (vascular plants, non-vascular plants & fungi, vertebrates, invertebrates, insects/spiders & myriapods, fossil plants, fossil animals, minerals, environmental specimen bank). SE-TAF collections include approximately 9.5 million specimens; among these we have identified more than 136,000 primary types.

Each core collection includes many special collections, several of which are unique globally (e.g. the Regnell Herbarium, Chinese Fossil Plant Collection) and these also include many types (e.g. the Weevil Collection). Currently much key specimen information is freely available through searchable internal databases, and a considerable part is also available via the Internet. This will help SYNTHESYS IA Users with project pre-planning.

Department Collection highlights and staff expertise
Environmental Specimen Bank A base for national contaminant monitoring in Sweden.
A collection of more than 280,000 specimens.
Long time series of homogeneous matrices from terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems make these high-quality collections of immense value for molecular analyses and extraction of chemical compounds for ecotoxicological and related studies.
Fossil Plants More than 250,000 specimens consisting of macro-, meso- and microfossils
Particularly important collections from China, Sweden, and polar regions
H.J. Schweitzer collection containing approx. 10,000 specimens from Iran, Afghanistan, Bear Island, Germany and many other remote localities
Fossil Animals 400,000 items
About half are from Sweden, and most of the remainder are from Europe (incl. Arctic islands of Spitsbergen, Bear Island, Novaya Zemlya and Vaigach)
Vascular plants Over 2.7 million specimens
33,000 identified types amongst 300,000 in a type collection
Large and unique collections from areas with a high level of biodiversity (e.g. South Africa, South America and the Caribbean)
50,000 pollen and spore slides.
Non-vascular plants & fungi 1.5 million specimens, incl. 40,000 identified types of an estimated 60,000
Bryophyte herbarium, with more than 715,000 specimens
Lichen collection from South America (G.O.A. Malme, R. Santesson)
Material from the Nordic countries, Arctic North America, Asia, and sub-Antarctic regions constitute other important parts of the herbarium.
Vertebrates Important and unique material from all continents
163,000 birds
51 000 mammals
500,000 fish
50,000 reptiles and amphibians
Invertebrates More than 5 million specimens
The mollusc collection, 300,000 lots, is particularly strong in material from high latitude areas and also from hydrothermal vents.
Insects, spiders and myriapods 3 million specimens includes historical collections (De Geer).
Minerals 150,000 catalogued (digital database) specimens.
Rich collections from the famous Långban mines (25,000 samples).

Analytical facilities and services:

SE-TAF maintains a wide variety of research facilities including advanced analytical equipment, dedicated laboratories, and excellent libraries. SE-TAF has almost 1,100 m2 of dedicated research laboratory space.

Biological and palaeontological research is supported by world-class facilities including state-of-the-art DNA sequencing laboratory with unique expertise.  The newly established ultra-clean ancient DNA laboratory allows genetic studies of museum specimens up to 100,000 years old. Scientists Scientists have access to skilled technical staff and an automated sequencer, a 16-capillary Applied Biosystems 3130xl Genetic Analyzer, equipped for sequencing and fragment analysis. Preparatory facilities for ultra structure studies of biological materials, a transmission and a scanning electron microscope are available. SE-TAF has excellent services for physical handling and x-ray investigation of zoological specimens, and a laboratory for analysis of X-ray tomography data.

Geological and geochemical research facilities include a mineral synthesis laboratory, Mössbauer spectrometer, equipment for polarised single crystal micro-FTIR and micro-UV/VIS/NIR spectroscopy, and a newly refurbished clean laboratory for low-level contamination chemical preparation of rock, sediment and water samples. SE-TAF has three mass spectrometers for isotope analysis comprising a new thermal-ionisation mass spectrometer, a multicollector ICP mass spectrometer equipped with both solution nebulisation and laser ablation for in-situ micro-sampling, and a high mass-resolution ion microprobe (NORDSIM facility) one of only three such instruments in Europe, is used for a wide range of in-situ isotope and trace-element microanalysis. The scanning electron microscope has facilities for cathodoluminescence including monochromator and different gratings, which is a very rare installation.

Autopsy room & X-ray equipment: Spacious facilities especially for handling large mammals. Philips MGC30, for investigation of zoological specimens

For a full list of the equipment that Users can apply to use click here.

Information Technology and Access

All Users will be able to bring personal laptops and connect these to the museums intranet (after a virus screening). Alternatively there are computers available for visitors to use. Internet access is provided in NRMs guestrooms.

Research supported by the infrastructure

The Changing Earth Traces the point of onset of life on earth are investigated applying high-resolution isotopic micro-analyses techniques on the best preserved early-Archean rocks in West Greenland as is the emergence and establishment of multicellular life and its response to global glaciations and geochemical changes. Other subject studied include development of the Fennoscandian bedrock and petrogenesis of iron ores, flow of elements between different reservoirs of the Earth using radiogenic isotopes, and the occurrence of major water repositories in Earth’s mantle, as well as mineral chemistry at the atomic level. The large mineral collection and the advanced analytical facilities at SE-TAF provide an excellent basis for frontline mineralogical and isotope research. The expertise and technical facilities present at SE-TAF under this theme are unique in the SYNTHESYS IA consortium.

Climate change and the present exploitation of our natural resources have caused a marked imbalance in the Earth’s ecosystem of increasing concern to the global society. To fully understand the mechanisms behind, and to halt this devastating development, it is imperative to study biodiversity in the context of a broader, long term geological framework.

Ecosystems and Species History. Research is directed at understanding events in evolutionary time through analysis of ancient faunas and floras and their changes in space and time. Focal points are the phylogenetic diversification and ecological radiation of flowering plants and their putative sister groups among extinct seed plants as well as the evolution of carnivorous mammals. The expertise and several collections available for this research under SE-TAF are unparalleled in the SYNTHESYS IA consortium.

The Diversity of Life. Studies include organismal relationships at all levels, evolution of morphological and other traits, phylogenetic theory and methodology, and taxonomy (identification and description of new species, taxonomic revisions, writing of faunas and floras). SE-TAF staff include world-leading authorities in phylogenetic methods (e.g., Bayesian phylogenetics, parsimony analysis).

Man and the Environment. Studies include monitoring of environmental contaminants and the study of their effects, as well as continual development of the Environmental Specimen Bank containing frozen tissue. Research on transport and spatial distribution of contaminants through time is crucial for understanding environmental health. New methods have been developed for tracing endocrine disrupters in large marine mammals, for measuring the effects of exposure to pollutants on their reproductive and endocrine systems, and for linking these results to potential population level effects. This research, which is a priority concern for EU DG Environment and the Habitat and Species Directive, relies on material from the Environmental Specimen Bank. Another focal point is the investigations of biochemical and geochemical processes of organochlorine substances in the environment using Compound Specific Analysis (CSIA) of stable chlorine isotopes. Expertise and collections supporting the research under this theme are unique in Europe.