UK Government: Historic Kew Gardens collection to go digital in major boost for climate change research

UK Government: Historic Kew Gardens collection to go digital in major boost for climate change research . “A £15 million investment to digitise the world’s largest collection of plant and fungal specimens will ‘revolutionise’ climate change research and help protect biodiversity for generations to come, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury announced today (4 November).”

Southeastern US herbaria digitize three million specimens, now freely available online (Phys .org)

Phys .org: Southeastern US herbaria digitize three million specimens, now freely available online. “A network of over 100 herbaria spread out across the southeastern United States recently completed the herculean task of fully digitizing more than three million specimens collected by botanists and naturalists over a span of 200 years…. In a new study published in the journal Applications in Plant Sciences, researchers involved in the project analyzed the rate at which specimens could be reliably photographed, digitized, and databased to assess how much similar efforts might cost in the future.”

Brown Daily Herald: The HerbUX Project works on making Herbarium data more accessible

Brown Daily Herald: The HerbUX Project works on making Herbarium data more accessible. “When a student visits the Brown University Herbarium, they’re greeted by countless plants meticulously climate-controlled in storage. Rebecca Kartzinel, director of the Herbarium and assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, defines herbaria as ‘collections of dried, pressed plants, historically … used for people studying taxonomy, the study of classifying and naming new plants and identifying plants.’… Kartzinel, along with students and other researchers, is working to develop the HerbUX Project, which aims to make the wealth of information within the Herbarium easily accessible online.”

California State University Long Beach: University’s Plant Collection Now Part Of National Database

California State University Long Beach: University’s Plant Collection Now Part Of National Database. “Up until recently, [Dr. Amanda] Fisher has had to rely largely on Cal State Long Beach’s collection of 18,00 physical specimens to conduct her research, dried local plants pressed onto 13×18 sheets on low-acid paper. If she wanted to view others from outside the Long Beach area, she would have to navigate the freeways. Today, however, with a few clicks of her computer mouse, Fisher, a professor in the biological sciences department, can study hundreds of thousands of digitized specimens from around the country online from a data base that now includes those collected by Cal State Long Beach researchers and students.”

The Telegraph: UK’s biggest library of plants under threat from biscuit beetles as RHS freeze pest off leaves before cataloging them

The Telegraph: UK’s biggest library of plants under threat from biscuit beetles as RHS freeze pest off leaves before cataloging them. “The UK’s biggest plant library is under threat from biscuit beetle as the Royal Horticultural Society has had to freeze all its plants to kill off the pest. The RHS is due to launch its new, digitised, herbarium which will help gardeners plan their blooms with helpful depictions of species and plant guides.”

Harvard Gazette: Critical collections

Harvard Gazette: Critical collections. “More than a century ago, when botanists and naturalists were in the field collecting plant and animal specimens, they couldn’t have imagined that scientists would one day be able to extract DNA from samples to understand how plants and animals are related to one another. They couldn’t have imagined that their collections could one day shed light on the effects of global climate change, or the emergence and spread of pathogens, the spread of fungal-driven amphibian extinction, or the effectiveness of policies aimed at reducing pollution in the U.S.”

University of New Mexico: UNM is opening virtual doors to its plant collections

University of New Mexico: UNM is opening virtual doors to its plant collections. “Hidden among the shelves and cabinets of natural history collections lie thousands of preserved plant specimens that represent the diverse flora of our planet. Scientists and researchers physically access these collections around the world in order to address challenges that threaten humanity and our environment. These specimens are rich sources of information about our planet’s biodiversity and history. Their usefulness is limited because the number of people who can visit is limited; by providing digital access to the collections, The University of New Mexico’s Herbarium is opening its doors to the global community. The UNM Herbarium, a division of the Museum of Southwestern Biology, is bringing digital life to the thousands of plant specimens within the herbarium. The herbarium houses well over 135,000 plant specimens, representing 10,300 taxa, making it New Mexico’s largest collection of plants from […]

University of Wisconsin-Madison: Campus museums recreate ‘cabinet of natural history’ digitally

University of Wisconsin-Madison: Campus museums recreate ‘cabinet of natural history’ digitally. “A new UW2020 initiative will centralize the databases of the university’s five natural history museums, which have separated over the decades to specialize and accommodate growing collections. The 1.3-million-specimen Wisconsin State Herbarium will coordinate with the zoology, geology, entomology and anthropology museums to merge records in a way that allows researchers to study the full scope of natural artifacts in one central location. This digital cabinet of natural history will link the museums’ combined 9 million-plus specimens that span all seven continents, the moon and Mars.”

Natural History Museum (UK): How Lego lends a hand in digitising 300 year old Herbarium books

Natural History Museum (UK): How Lego lends a hand in digitising 300 year old Herbarium books | Digital Collections Programme. “[Sir Hans] Sloane’s collections are the founding core of the Museum’s collections and occupy a central position in its (and the British Museum’s) history. Over 300+ years since his death his natural history collections have had mixed fortunes, with many mammal, bird and reptile specimens being lost or destroyed. His plant collections survived and are still housed in the Museum today. Some of this has been digitised by the Museum using a large-format camera with a digital scanner attachment. However, some volumes were completely unsuitable for this technique and require a different approach.” Fascinating “behind the scenes” look at digitizing unusual books and the ingenuity required.

TechCrunch: Deep learning could discover new plant species hidden in centuries of herbarium data

TechCrunch: Deep learning could discover new plant species hidden in centuries of herbarium data. “Machine learning techniques excel at doing a good-enough job quickly in situations where there’s lots of data to grind through. It turns out that’s a great fit for backlogs of plant samples at herbariums and other repositories around the world, which have millions of the things waiting to be digitized and identified — including some that may be new to science.”