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Facilities and Collections

Snake River Plains Herbarium (SRP)

The BSU herbarium houses over 31,000 specimens of vascular plants concentrating on the regions of southwestern Idaho and adjacent areas. The herbarium maintains an active exchange program with herbaria in surrounding states and continues to expand its holdings. In 1992 the Idaho Department of Fish and Game herbarium (IFGH) officially merged with the holdings of SRP. During the same year an agreement was made with the herbarium at Oregon State University (OSC) to take the duplicates from the merger of the two main Oregon herbaria (OSC and ORE). This yielded an estimated 8000 specimens for SRP.

SRP encourages researchers to utilize the herbarium and participates in loan of materials. Label information for all holdings at SRP are compiled into a computerized data base. Our anticipated goal is to have the label information accessible online.

The Vertebrate Museum

The Vertebrate Museum, housed in room 239 Science-Nursing Building, contains thousands of preserved specimens of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. We have reasonable representations of local species and a limited number of specimens of many more exotic species. The museum is used for teaching (Vertebrate Natural History, Ornithology, and Mammalogy) and for research. Our records system is presently undergoing a major overhaul and computerization to provide ready access to information on specimens. For further information, contact Dr. Marc Bechard (birds) or Dr. James Munger (mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish).

The Entomological Collection

For further information, contact Dr. Ian Robertson.

Radioimmunoassay Laboratory

The Radioimmunoassay (RIA) Laboratory at Boise State University functions under the direction of Dr. Alfred Dufty. It is used to measure circulating levels of steroid hormones (e.g., testosterone, estradiol, corticosterone) in blood plasma. The protocol involves initial extraction of hormones from the blood and separation of individual hormones by column chromatography. The RIA itself involves the use of tritium-labeled (hot) hormone to compete with the unlabeled (cold) hormone for binding sites on a hormone-specific antibody. A scintillation counter measures the ratio of hot:cold hormone attached to the antibody in the sample, and a determination is made based on a comparison with known standards. Dr. Dufty presently uses the technique to investigate the physiological mechanism underlying avian responses to handling stress, dominance relationships, and changes in sex steroid hormones during the breeding season. Both graduate and undergraduate students have learned the RIA technique, and the skills involved are transferable to many other laboratory situations. Although Dr. Dufty’s personal research focuses on birds, investigations involving other taxa also are welcome.