The zoological collections contain specimens in the following forms:
- Taxidermy mounts and study skins
- Entomological (insects) pinned specimens
- Osteological (skeletal) material
- Spirit preserved and histological specimens.
- Shells, corals and sponges
- Microscope slide preparations
They have been obtained by various collectors from around the world. The specimens include some major individual collections that have historical importance to Brighton and Sussex. These include:
- Edward Thomas Booth’s birds and dioramas. These were the original contents of the Booth Museum, and made up the displays in Booth’s Museum of British Birds (predecessor to the current museum).
- Arthur Hall’s collection of Central and South American lepidoptera, including many type specimens (the firsts scientifically described example of those species).
- Fredrick W. Lucas’ Osteology. These skeletal collections were the contents of Lucas’ personal museum based in Rottingdean in the early 20th Century. They were given to Brighton Museum between 1918 and 1920 when he moved away from the region.
Though the majority of the specimens found at the Booth are birds, the museum holds specimens from all the major groups of vertebrates. Birds form the core of our taxidermy mount and research skins. The mammals make up the majority of the skeletal collections, and most of the reptile and amphibian specimens are preserved in liquid.
The vertebrate collections are used for exhibitions and learning. They help to tell the story of how these animals have evolved and adapted to survive in their environments and the changing modern world. They are also used in current scientific research, including:
- The distribution and genetic makeup of Peregrine Falcons.
- The taxonomy and distribution of lepidoptera in Guyana.
- The species genetics of cheetahs.
- The distribution of shorebirds in Scandinavia.
- The evolution of myxomatosis resistance in rabbit populations.