Copenhagen, 5 December 2007 - If you needed to see a specimen of a hedgehog from Herzegovina or a fish from Fiji, would you know where to look? Finding a natural history collection that has specimens from a particular time or place right now is mostly a matter of guesswork.
The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh are paving the way for more effective international discovery of important research specimens by developing an internet-based index of who has what. The data repository that will result can be used for free by the global community.
In signing today a Memorandum of Co-operation stating their intention to create the "Biodiversity Collections Index", the three organisations have committed to compile an internet-accessible listing of all the reference collections of biodiversity materials anywhere in the world.
The Index will keep track of the museums, herbaria, and research institutes that hold collections of cultured, frozen, dried or pickled specimens of plants, animals, fungi or microorganisms.
Currently, it is not known exactly how many such collections, nor how many specimens, actually exist. Building the Biodiversity Collections Index will help inventory these extremely valuable world treasures. Implementation of the Biodiversity Collections Index will begin early in 2008.
GBIF is a major component of the emerging global network of biodiversity information specifically concerned with the availability of scientific data on species. It has a goal of making 1 billion biodiversity data records available via the GBIF network and portal by the end of 2008 (see http://www.gbif.org/Stories/STORY1194436774). The Biodiversity Collections Index will contribute to this effort by helping to identify sources for these data.
The Biodiversity Collections Index project is being undertaken at the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh, with Roger Hyam as project lead. Hyam said "I have no doubt that developing the Index will make a significant contribution to the understanding and sustainable utilisation of the world's biodiversity".
Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) specifications for data and metadata will facilitate the building of the Biodiversity Collections Index by ensuring that the information is accessible to all potential users.
The Biodiversity Collections Index will enable people to locate materials they need for research more quickly than is currently possible, and enable them to easily report where their own materials are deposited so that others can re-use them. This will aid research that will contribute to sustainability and other important biodiversity issues.
|Contact: Meredith Lane|
Global Biodiversity Information Facility