The parasite collection has 2 main emphases: the diverse array of Penner parasite specimens, and a substantial collection of tapeworms from sharks and rays generated by Dr. Janine Caira and students. The Penner collection includes extensive representation of most of the major groups of metazoan parasites infecting vertebrates; particularly numerous are parasites of mammals and birds. These specimens are principally from North American hosts, especially New England and Florida, but there is also fair representation of parasites from exotic animals acquired by Dr. Penner in his work with the San Diego Zoo (this collection is now databased). It is estimated that this collection ranks 8th in the nation in size; it is among the top 4 with respect to its representation of mammal parasites.
Over the past 13 years, through the work of Caira and students, the University has also developed a substantial collection of tapeworms of elasmobranchs. This collection has grown substantially in the last 2 years as a result of increased collecting activity funded by a PEET award to Drs. Caira and Charles Henry. To date, more than 300 of the approximately 880 species of elasmobranchs have been sampled. In addition, as a result of recent donations, this collection now includes the personal collections of Drs. Nathan Riser and Robert Goldstein, who dominated North American research focused on elasmobranch tapeworms in the 1950s and 1960s, respectively. We believe this to be the third largest collection of elasmobranch tapeworms in the world.