In 1995, recognizing the importance of the conservation of wild life resources, Uzbekistan joined the International convention on biological diversity. The National Strategy and Action Plan for the conservation of biological diversity of the Republic of Uzbekistan were developed with a support of the Global Fund and UNDP in 1998. This document was endorsed by I.A. Karimov, the Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan. One of the key directions in the implementation of the national strategy was the creation, support and analysis of scientific collections, which are the sources of information for assessment of the diversity of fauna and enable the provision of a scientifically-based assessment of changes and the current state. Most importantly, they can be used for taking prompt decisions and measures for protection and sustainable use of the wild life resources. The collections are also important for the identification of biological species while carrying out researches and expert examinations.
Memorial collections made in a long-term period are of obvious importance as they enable to characterize changes in the state of the fauna in the historic aspect, particularly in areas subject to irreversible anthropogenic transformation. The importance and necessity of using scientific collections and taxonomic studies was stressed in the Decision of the fourth meeting of the Convention members held in Bratislava in 1998.
Currently, there are several extensive collections of birds and mammalians in Uzbekistan. One of the largest funds in Central Asia is the zoological collection of the National University of Uzbekistan founded by an outstanding researcher, N.A. Zarudny, more than a hundred years ago. There are more than 23.5 thousand specimens of birds and mammalians of 731 species (Kashkarov, Zagrebin, 1998). The Institute of Zoology of Uzbek Academy of Sciences has a collection comprising more than 12.2 thousand specimens of birds and mammalians. Until recently, there were 1.9 thousand specimens of birds and mammalians at the Republican Nature Museum (Urmanova, 1982). The ornithological and mammological funds of the zoological museum of the Department of Zoology at Samarkand State University comprise more than 3700 stored specimens. Samarkand museum of local history, together with the exhibits, also has scientific collections comprising about 1300 specimens of birds and mammalians. In the above-mentioned funds, together with the modern specimens, there are specimens and series dating back to the early 20th century, which were collected by N.A. Zarudny, D.N. Kashkarov, M.K. laptev, E.P. Spangenberg, S.K. Dal, A.N. Bogdanov, E.L. Shestoperov and others. The unique series (more than one thousand) of skuls of ungulates, such as the Przewalski's horse, the Turkmen kulan, the Persian gazelle, Severtsov's argali are available at the Ecocenter Djeiran and Nuratau State Nature Reserve.
The scientific collections are unique objects and the national heritage of the state. Unfortunately, many of them are not properly systemized and catalogued, which renders the quick access to the information contained in them impossible. The storing conditions of many collections fail to meet the demand. The leading paleo-zoologist, N.K. Vereshchagin (2003), indicated this sorry plight in his article. The collections of birds and mammalians stored in wooden shelves in the form of dried carcasses are as none else susceptible to various insects (dermestids, moth) and humidity. The collection of the Republican Nature Museum, founded in late 19th century, due to the reconstruction of the museum is currently deprived of the building and is in the threatened state. Damages and loss of unique collection specimens is an irreversible loss to biology in general and the environmental activity in particular.
It is noteworthy that some well-known catalogues were published in small circulation and from the very beginning were not readily available. Throughout the entire history of zoological studies in Uzbekistan only two catalogues were published: The catalogue of the Zoological Branch of Tashkent Museum (Maev, 1887) and the Catalogue of the ornithological collection of Tashkent Nature Museum (Urmanova, 1982). In one private work (Balan, 1966), types of new descriptions of the A.N. Zarudny collections were cited. In the other work (Lanovenko, 1990), an attempt was made to summarize the materials on the availability of red-data book species in the collections of the Institute of Zoology of Uzbek Academy of Sciences, Tashkent State University and Moscow State University. In 2003, a catalogue of insectivores and chiropterans (R.D. Kashkarov, Yu.O. Mitropolskaya, 2003) was published in the journal Selevinia. In 2004, the first variant of the reference catalogue and territorial-chronological analysis of mammological collections of the Department of Zoology at the national University of Uzbekistan (R.D. Kashkarov, D.E. Golovtsov, 2004) was published in the same journal. The list of zoological catalogues is restricted to these works. In 1981, H.H. Genoways and D.A. Schlitter published a list of "Collections of modern mammalians of the world…" in the Annals of Carnegie Museum, in which only one mammological collection of the Institute of Zoology of Uzbek Academy of Sciences is mentioned! It is no surprise that zoological collections of Uzbekistan are little known to scientists from other regions, while the most valuable information contained in them is practically inaccessible.
A targeted work on the development of databases of Uzbekistani zoological collections was initiated by Professor D.Yu. Kashkarov in 1994. The team "Ornithologist" created and constantly supervised by him started to explore the scientific funds of the ornithological collection of N.A. Zarudny at the Department of Zoology at the National University of Uzbekistan. Funds awarded within the frames of the applied subject of the State Committee for Science and Technologies (SCST) enabled, in 1996-1999, the implementation of an inventory and taxonomic revision of a significant part of bird collections, draw up a card index, improve the system of storage and use, compile a reference catalogue of non-Passeriformes birds, the catalogue of ornithological collections of N.A. Zarudny from Iran. In 2000-2002, a scientific team of D.Yu. Kashkarov continued work on the SCST subject "The territorial and chronological characteristic of the collections of birds and mammalians as a basis of measures aimed at the conservation of biodiversity in Uzbekistan." The goal of the study was to continue developing the systematic catalogue of the ornithological collection of N.A. Zarudny, application of the collected experience in systematization of funds on mammalians, as well as the territorial and chronological analysis of the ornithological collection as the collection of biological object had been carried out for several centuries on the single methodological basis and these materials as already databases, D.Yu. Kashkarov proposed to develop a database of the ornithological collection of N.A. Zarudny. In 2000, the Houbara Foundation International Pakistan provided the Ornithologist group with a set of computer equipment. This enabled the members of this group to develop a typical form on the basis of Microsoft Access software and entering data into it. By the end of 2002, the parameters of 3.6 thousand bird specimens of 14 orders of non-Passeriformes had been entered into this database.
In 2003, the scientific group of D.Yu. Kashkarov financially supported by the Center for Science and Technologies (CSAT) under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan launched an applied study "Development of an information bank of the zoological collection of the National University of Uzbekistan for the implementation of the Action plan for the conservation of biodiversity of Uzbekistan. The team set the goal to develop the information packet of scientific collection data of the Department of Zoology of National University of Uzbekistan comprising the electronic bases of ornithological and mammological collections, the Collection of rare and strictly protected birds and mammalians, as well as the Register of the mammological collection. In 2004, after the death of Professor Kashkarov, the leadership of the scientific group Ornithologist was entrusted to R.D. Kashkarov, Cand. Sci. (Biol.). The work was completed in 2005 and a logical crown of 10-year studies. In this period, the following scientists took an active part in the work of the group Ornithologist: O.V. Mitropolsky, Dr. Biol., Ayupov A.N., Cand. Sci. (Biol.), Mitropolskaya Yu.O., Zagrebin S.V., Stukalova M.K., Golovtsov D.E., Ozhegov A.B., Atakhodjaev A.A., as well as students Ten A., Boiko O., Valiakhmedov R., Muratokhodjaeva S., and Mitropolsky M.
In 2005, R.D. Kashkarov justified a necessity of development of a unified data bank of zoological collection of Uzbekistan (Kashkarov, Azizov, 2005). In 2006, a grant was awarded by CSAT for the implementation of this applied study. In the following three years, an inventory, processing and development of electronic database of all ornithological and mammological collection funds of Uzbekistan on the basis of a unified method developed and tested at the department of Zoology of the national University of Uzbekistan were carried out. The direct project participants working on the collections not yet stocked were Mitropolskaya Yu.O., Mitropolskaya N.O. (mammological collection of the Institute of Zoology of Uzbek Academy of Sciences), Lanovenko E.N., Cand.Sci. (Biol.), Filatova E.A. (the ornithological collection of the Institute of Zoology of Uzbek Academy of Sciences), Jabbarov A.R., Mamashukurov A.U., Mukhamadiev B.Sh. (zoological collection of the Department of Zoology of Samarkand State University), Marmazinskaya N.V., Cand.Sci. (Biol.) (the zoological collection of the Samarkand Museum of Local History), Atakhodjaev A.A. (ornithological collection of the Republican nature museum); Soldatova N.V. and Soldatov V.A. (the mammological collection of the Nuratau State Nature Reserve).
The analysis of collections made during the inventory clearly indicated their specific, territorial and chronological nonequivalence. This is quite logical because none of the collections, even the most extensive one, can solve all questions pertaining to changes in the fauna, species identification, etc. However, attempts to replenish collection funds with new supplies are not always a possible way to solve the problem. Alongside, the unification of all zoological collections into one format enables a significant "filling the gap" on the map of distribution of collection funds. Also, very important positive moments are the rehabilitation and sanitary processing of collections, the necessity of which constantly emerged during the inventory and revision of collections.
The reference catalogue of zoological collections of Uzbekistan is published in two languages (Russian and English); the texts are translated into English by Javkhar Khodjaev. The ultimate goal of this publication is to make the collections more known and therefore more needed by local and foreign scientists, facilitate the access to and exchange of information by all concerned experts. During the work, Microsoft Access electronic bases were developed for each of the collections. They contain the following information on each specimen: the code of species, a modern Latin name, inventory and collection numbers, sex (male, female, ? - sex unidentified), age, (juv, sad, ad), date of collection, location of collection indicated on the original label, the code of geographic area of collected individuals, collector. For the mammological part of the collection, the form of storing is indicated (skull/skin), the place of storage (shelf/box), and a note. The note lists the subspecies names and other important information, if such are available on the author's label. These electronic databases are at the disposal of the keepers of collection funds and can be used with their concurrence.
We hope that the Catalogue will be used by higher educational institutions, local and foreign experts, departments of the State Committee for Nature Protection, as well as other organizations working on the problems of study and sustainable use of the wild life.
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Last modified: 13.12.2008