Ottawa, March 26, 2014The Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada's national museum of natural history, has launched a free scientific database featuring open access to more than 710,000 records of plants, animals, fossils, and minerals that are part of the museum's national collections. The searchable online resource is accessible through the museum's web site at nature.ca/collections-online.
The digitized records represent about one-quarter (or 22%) of the museum's estimated 3.2 million "cataloguable units" of biological and geological material. Overall, the museum estimates it manages more than 10.5 million individual specimens that have been acquired over more than 150 years. The collections, which cover Canada and other parts of the world, are stored and curated at the museum's Natural Heritage Campus in Gatineau, Quebec.
"The great potential of this online access is that it takes a huge collection and unleashes the associated data over the internet for all kinds of people to ask questions about the natural world," explains Dr. Mark Graham, the museum's Vice-President, Research and Collections. "This tool provides the power for a researcher to choose the data that they want, use it freely, and apply it to the scientific questions that they are trying to answer." In some cases, online access can minimize loans of valuable specimens, or reduce the need for direct contact with a curator or a personal visit to the collections.
Data from natural history collections, supplemented by images, can be applied in numerous ways. These can include tracking invasive species patterns, understanding competition in ecosystems, mapping changes in habitat or species range over time, defining poorly studied areas for collecting, or assisting with computer modelling related to issues such as climate change.
For natural history museums, digitization means providing onli
|Contact: Dan Smythe|
Canadian Museum of Nature