In 2017 and 2018, we teamed up with The Nature Conservancy in Africa and Gabon’s Institut de Recherches Agronomiques et Forestières (IRAF) to survey the fish diversity around several proposed dam sites in that central African country.  The expeditions yielded more than 10,000 preserved specimens and 2,000 DNA samples which are now accessioned in our collection.  These samples have already resulted in the description of a new minnow species, a paper investigating potential impacts of dam development on the overall freshwater fish diversity of Gabon, and a paper exploring how dams might limit access to freshwater habitats for marine species that also inhabit Gabon’s rivers.  Results from a DNA barcoding study, regional assessments and additional taxonomic studies will follow.
Small stream in the Komo River drainage of northwestern Gabon


Many of our recent local expeditions target freshwater sculpins of the genus Cottus.  More than a dozen nominal species of these small, benthic fishes occur throughout Oregon and adjacent regions of the Pacific Northwest, where they form important components of the freshwater ecosystem and cohabitate with numerous salmonid species.  Despite decades of study in the mid-twentieth century by our former curator Carl Bond, many sculpin species lack clear diagnoses, and their true geographic, genetic and anatomical boundaries remain uncertain.  New collections from across Oregon are allowing us to connect DNA samples and fresh specimens to the historical record archived in our collection, and thereby investigate the biodiversity, taxonomy and biogeography of these enigmatic animals with unprecedented detail. 

Sampling for sculpins near La Grande, Oregon in summer 2018

Biodiversity Survey of the Ogooué River, Gabon

Curator Brian Sidlauskas collected and accessioned several hundred lots from Gabon’s Ogooué River in 2014 with the support of The Nature Conservancy and the Gabon-Oregon Transnational Research Center on Environment and Development, and in collaboration with CENAREST-Gabon, the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates and Association Aimara. Material from this expedition will support the development of an Atlas of Biodiversity for Gabon, the description of species new to science, and the eventual establishment of a reference collection in Gabon.

Ichthyological Exploration of Guyana's Cuyuni River

In 2011, the collection accessioned a series of freshwater fishes from Guyana. These resulted from a recent collection expedition led by Dr. Sidlauskas with funding from the Smithsonian Institution’s Biological Diversity of the Guyana Shield program. You can see galleries of fishes and locations from that expedition here, read articles about our use of Facebook to identify fishes here and here, or listen to a related podcast by Dylan McDowell, an undergrad in OSU’s Honors College.