"Anything that provides context about what that specimen is, what it was doing in its natural environment and where it was found is recorded," says Dr. Jeff Saarela, a museum research scientist and botanist. He led the project team that developed the database in collaboration with software developer eSolutionsGroup. "The museum's staff have been digitizing our specimen records for over 20 years, but this is the first time that information from the collections has been combined in one portal that can now be shared easily with the world."
The database is enhanced by the addition of about 16,000 records with high-resolution imagesthe majority are plant specimens stored in the museum's National Herbarium of Canada. The plants can be easily scanned because they are pressed and preserved for study on flat sheets. In addition, maps using GPS coordinates provide a visual cue to where each specimen was found.
Records can be searched under five main categories: discipline (mineralogy, paleobiology, botany and zoology), taxonomic classification (using the scientific naming convention), location (from latitude/longitude to geographical locale), specimen information such as catalogue number, and a collection date range.
The data fields are also standardized to meet global standards, so that the records can be integrated with international initiatives such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, based in Denmark. This network provides open access to scientific data from cooperating museums, universities, government agencies, NGO's and laboratories in more than 50 countries.
The museum will continue to add an estimat
|Contact: Dan Smythe|
Canadian Museum of Nature