Welcome to the MSB
Division of Parasitology
Development of parasitological research in North America has been influenced by a relatively small number of research collections and archives in the United States and Canada. The Parasitology Division at the Museum of Southwestern Biology will build on the core represented by the considerable holdings of the Robert and Virginia Rausch Collections, and those of the Beringian Coevolution Project. These collections immediately place the MSB Parasitology Division as the third largest helminth collection in the United States.
The world is changing rapidly with often unanticipated consequences that affect the distribution and density of host species and by extension their parasites including several emerging or re-emerging human pathogens. Natural history collections of helminths play a central role in understanding the diversity, epidemiology and distribution of parasites. These archives provide a foundation for recognizing and solving major problems in parasite invasion and disease emergence. Helminth parasites remain economically, ecologically and environmentally significant pathogens in humans, domesticated animals and wildlife populations.
A paucity of knowledge about species and populations, the often limited information for geographic and host-distributions, and scarcity of comprehensive knowledge about biology, hinders our ability to predict the behavior of parasites and pathogens in new hosts or ecological settings. Even today, the introduction and movements of invasive species and exotic parasites poses a major threat to humans and domestic and wild organisms. Climate change and environmental perturbation exacerbates this challenge.
Integrated biological collections and informatics resources provide the foundation for documenting and understanding diversity. An integrated infrastructure joining specimens, information and research is a critical cornerstone in addressing broader challenges to biodiversity and sustainability. The MSB has become a primary resource for biodiversity informatics with a powerful presence on the internet that is fostering the development of integrated resources.
The Museum of Southwestern Biology’s integrated collections are tied to critical research initiatives, major public policy initiatives, other large databases and web interfaces, and available to the general public.