Specimens and associated data in natural history collections (NHCs) foster substantial scientific progress. In this paper, we explore recent contributions of NHCs to the study of systematics and biogeography, genomics, morphology, stable isotope ecology, and parasites and pathogens of mammals. To begin to assess the magnitude and scope of these contributions, we analyzed publications in the Journal of Mammalogy over the last decade, as well as recent research supported by a single university mammal collection (Museum of Southwestern Biology, Division of Mammals). Using these datasets, we also identify weak links that may be hindering the development of crucial NHC infrastructure. Maintaining the vitality and growth of this foundation of mammalogy depends on broader engagement and support from across the scientific community and is both an ethical and scientific imperative given the rapidly changing environmental conditions on our planet.
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Vol. 97 • No. 1