How To Identify National Park Specimens

Documentation: Identifiers

Many collections have been tasked with identifying specimens from US National Parks and various other Department of the Interior (DoI) agencies. There are several possible ways of doing this.


DOI has required permits for all collecting activities on DOI land since 1906, and claims to have a mechanism of linking permits to the data in which they’re interested. ‘Query-ability’ will depend on the permit data recorded; a permit issued by agent “Denali National Park” will be capable of answering finer-grained questions than one issued by “US NPS,” for example. Permits can and should be used in conjunction with all other methods of identifying DOI specimens.


Projects provide a mechanism for querying much the same data as Permits, but also allow more metadata (such as associated NPS funding) and provide results in a more integrated and accessible format. Note that projects crossing multiple collections should be viewed when not logged in as an operator as permissions may conceal information for which an operator does not hever permission.

Denali National Park and Preserve UAM Mammals National Park Service (NPS) specimens held in the Museum of Southwestern Biology

For information about creating and maintaing projects see Projects in Arctos

Generic Identifiers

Assigning identifiers with appropriate issued by agents such as U. S. National Park Service catalog provides coarse-grained origin information, and may be somewhat useful for DOI personnel in comparing museum specimen data with records in their local databases.

Specific Identifiers

Assigning identifiers with appropriate issued by agents Lassen Volcanic National Park provides fine-grained origin information and easy access.


Geography is problematic as DOI land changes over time. A specimen may have been collected on what is now National Park land before the Park was formed or expanded, and as such would NOT be the property of NPS, for example.

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