Humboldt State University

Department of Biological Sciences

Vertebrate Museum

Teaching & Graduate Studies


The teaching and research collections at the Vertebrate Museum are used in a variety of courses each year at HSU. Zoology 356 (Mammalogy) is typically taught every semester, and Advanced Mammalogy (Zoology 560) and Marine Mammalogy (Zoology 556) are typically taught once per year. Approximately 120 students take these courses each year, making Humboldt State one of the most active mammal programs in the nation in terms of teaching. Our collection has exceptional taxonomic coverage, providing a wealth of museum material for students to enjoy.

The collections of amphibians and reptiles are also used in teaching, primarily in Herpetology (Zoology 354), which is typically offered once per year.

In addition to providing access to specimens, students in the above courses get to participate in variety of field trips, including marine mammal trips aboard the HSU research vessel the Coral Sea and extended fieldtrips to the Heath and Marjorie Angelo Coast Range Reserve.

Killer Whales


Fall 2006
Video by Lydia Hicks

Flying Squirrel Release

Advanced Mammalogy

Spring 2006

Spotted Skunk Release

Advanced Mammalogy

Spring 2006

Ringtail Release

Advanced Mammalogy

Spring 2006

Undergraduate Research

In addition to our course offerings, there is a wide variety of opportunities for students to get hands-on curatorial training in mammalogy and herpetology, and to conduct directed research on the ecology, evolution, and conservation of vertebrates.

Marine Mammal Education and Research Program (MMERP)

Dr. Dawn Goley heads the Marine Mammal Education and Research Program (MMERP). This program provides one of the only opportunities in the country for undergraduates to do hands-on research on marine mammals. Current projects include performing surveys and developing photo identification libraries for gray whales and sea lions along the northern California Coast and assisting with telemetry studies of local harbor seals. To find out more about MMERP, please contact Dr. Goley via E-mail at or by phone at 707-826-4168.

Graduate Studies

Northern California is one of the most biologically diverse locations in North America.  Within minutes of campus are the tallest old growth forest in the world, the Pacific Ocean, rugged mountain ranges, and six major rivers, making Humboldt State a superb location for field studies.

There are a wide variety of opportunities for Graduate Studies in mammalogy, herpetology, ornithology, evolution, ecology, conservation genetics and systematics at HSU. Recent graduate student projects at the Vertebrate Museum include:

  • Jessica Blois: Conservation Genetics of the Sonoma Tree Vole
  • Christopher Callahan: Systematics and Biogeography of Whale Lice Living on Gray Whales
  • Nick Kerhoulas: Systematics and Biogeography of Mesoamerican Flying Squirrels

Many other faculty members in the HSU Department of Biological Sciences are associated with the Vertebrate Museum and have active graduate programs. To find out more, please visit the People section.

There are also a number of faculty in the Wildlife Department that also do research on birds and mammals and have active graduate programs.

HSU Vertebrate Museum • 1 Harpst St. • Arcata, CA 95521 • Contact Us.