The IINH Animal Collections contain just over 300,000 collection samples. Each sample contains anywhere from one to several thousand specimens, depending on the species. The objective of the collections is to reflect species variability at all stages of their life histories, and within their geographical range, especially in Icelandic territories. Collection items form the basis for various types of taxonomic and systematic research, in particular to map genotypic and phenotypic variation and analyse species boundaries for closely related or morphologically variable species. The Animal Collections are also used to revise species descriptions and classification systems that reflect evolutionary relationships. Digitisation of the entire collection is underway. Access to the data in digital form facilitates the creation of distribution maps, faunal inventories, and Red Lists. It is also important for developing collection policy and information sharing online.
The Animal Collections contain specimens of species that are extremely rare or difficult to obtain in nature. In addition, the Animal Collections contain samples that are decades or even centuries old. These can be compared with modern samples, for example to measure increased levels of various contaminants in living animals today. Collection items may be temporarily loaned out for exhibition and research purposes (see our Loans policy).