Collecting and Diversity Studies
I'm glad you appreciate what we are doing here and thank you for contributing your photographs. This project will be ongoing for a while as we accumulate more specimens. There are more than 50 in the Saint Michael's College collection and it is growing. Ebay is our primary source and we purchase only those skulls for which we can confirm state of origin and ideally county. Trappers associations have donated skulls and pest control companies have also sent us specimens that we have cleaned in house.
There are a number of papers published on geographic variation in coyotes and our photographs will represent a new data set complimenting the published literature. The collection includes skulls from from farther south than San Antonio, Arizona, New Mexico, Washington, Minnesota, Alaska, Montana, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, New Brunswick. As the online collection grows we will develop some categories and pages to simplify searching by date and location. We just added links to ImageJ to simplify measuring.
As you point out, zoology and natural history are not static fields and there is so much more to learn. There are several questions that could be addressed with just this data set: are northern coyotes larger than southern; are coyotes from the New England larger than western coyotes because of wolf hybridization; are the teeth of Texas coyotes proportionally larger (as was suggested by one collector). The collection could also be used as a teaching tool for statistical methods.
Thanks for your kind comments, and more importantly, your collaboration! dmccabe 01:56, 17 September 2012 (UTC)