Natural sciences

Natural Sciences at QVMAG


The Natural Sciences department of QVMAG preserves a record of biodiversity for Northern Tasmania.

Natural Sciences is responsible for three collections; zoology, geology and botany. These are mainly Tasmanian in origin, are actively used for research and exhibition.

Natural Sciences also provides information to government agencies, research workers, community groups and the general public on the taxonomy and ecology of Tasmania's fauna, flora and geology.

QVMAG Natural Sciences research is regularly published, and information made available on the Atlas of Living Australia and Ozcam.

Please contact us for more information.

A collection of national significance
The City of Launceston's Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery is celebrating part of its Natural Sciences collection being expertly dubbed the best of the best. Earlier this year, QVMAG received funding from the National Library of Australia, through its Community Heritage Grants scheme, to understand the significance of our collection of animal skins, skeletons and mounts.The Australian Museum assessed the collection for its scientific significance, while a local historian looked at the collection's historical, social and cultural values.The subsequent report states that QVMAG holds the largest and most comprehensive collections of Tasmanian native terrestrial mammals in Australia, and the most extensive collection of Tasmanian bird species in the world.These collections are scientifically valuable as they represent Tasmania's mammals and birds through time (early 1800's to present) and across Tasmania and its offshore islands. Importantly, it is the collection data (location, date, habitat information) that makes our collection so scientifically valuable.


The zoology collection represents mammal, bird, reptile, fish and invertebrate taxa collected from across Tasmania, and through the decades. The oldest specimens date to before 1891. The collection's strength lies in its long series of specimens, collected across many decades. Currently, collecting efforts focus on entomology and arachnology.

Around 84,000 records of our faunal specimens are available for searching online at the Atlas of Living Australia or Ozcam

Research and resources
Current research is focused on expanding our knowledge of entomology and arachnology in northern Tasmania. A considerable number of undescribed spiders, cockroaches, flies and beetles have been discovered. There is also supported research into the extinct Tasmanian and King Island emus. The Natural Sciences support visiting scientists as well as provide loan material to recognised research institutions. 


Natural Sciences cares for an extensive geology collection representative of Tasmanian regions, rocks and minerals by specimen, historical personal collections, and palaeontology.

Research and Resources 
QVMAG does not have a geologist on staff, however a number of well recognised experts assist QVMAG as required. Visiting researchers are welcome to access the collections. Our palaeontology collection is extensive and remains generally unexplored. Extensive fossil (and sub-fossil) material of megafauna collected from the main island of Tasmania, and the Bass Strait Islands, is held awaiting discovery by palaeontologists.


The Botany collection is a significant, historical record of Tasmania's floral diversity. More than 20 000 herbarium specimens of most macrophyte groups are represented. Of interest is a collection of samples of different woods from Tasmania and overseas.

QVMAG does not have a botanist on staff, however a number of well recognised experts assist QVMAG as required. Visiting researchers are welcome to access the collections. 

Research and Resources 
The botany collection is undergoing digitisation over next few years. Once digitised the information will be available through the Atlas of Living Australia.  


Read the latest publications by our Natural Sciences staff here. 

A translocated population of the mainland Australian Cockroach Drymaplaneta semivitta Walker, 1868 (Blattidae: Polyzosteriinae) in Launceston, Tasmania by Simon Fearn and Judy Rainbird. Read article here(PDF, 698KB).   

Ghost fungus Omphalotus nidiformis (Berk.) O.K.Mill (Marasmiaceae) as a host for the fungus Beetle Thallis compta Erichson, 1842 (Coleoptera: Erotylidae) In Northern Tasmania by Simon Fearn. Read article here(PDF, 762KB)

Predation on fairy penguin chick Eudyptula minor (Aves: Spheniscidae) by the Tiger Snake Notechis scutatus (Serpentes: Elapidae) in Southeast Tasmania by Brad Hall and Simon Fearn. Read article here(PDF, 1MB).

Two novel adult food plants for the green and gold stag beetle Lamprima aurata (Scarabaeoidea: Lucanidae) in Coastal Tasmania by Simon Fearn. Read article here(PDF, 2MB).  

Titanus fever. An obsession with the world's largest beetle by Simon Fearn, published in iHerp, issue 4. Read article here(PDF, 6MB). 

Bucket List: 1. Grow out Tiger Snake more than six feet long by Simon Fearn, published in iHerp, issue 5. Read article here(PDF, 4MB)

All that glitters is not gold. The golden Tiger Snake of Tasmania by Simon Fearn, published in iHerp, issue 7. Read article here(PDF, 5MB)