Phys .org: A quest to digitize 1 million plant specimens

Phys .org: A quest to digitize 1 million plant specimens. “The Australian National Herbarium in Canberra is imaging nearly a million plant specimens using an automated system developed by Netherlands company Picturae. CSIRO Group Leader for Digitization & Informatics, Pete Thrall, who oversees digital assets at the National Research Collections Australia, managed by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, said the project would help inform bushfire recovery and biosecurity.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Missouri Botanical Garden’s plant collection is going digital

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Missouri Botanical Garden’s plant collection is going digital. “The Missouri Botanical Garden, in the middle of a multiyear effort to digitize hundreds of thousands of dried plant specimens, is now on the edge of further expanding its work. The Garden is hopeful it will soon land a grant from the National Science Foundation to digitally catalogue more than half a million specimens in its Africa collection to an online database for researchers around the world.”

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).”

The Hindu: Botanical Survey of India’s collection of rare paintings, dyes, fabrics and type specimens to go public

The Hindu: Botanical Survey of India’s collection of rare paintings, dyes, fabrics and type specimens to go public. “Apart from botanical paintings, the digital archive also displays rare natural dyes, fabrics and type specimens (the first collection that’s used for describing a plant). Each one of these rare holdings has its own story. Thomas Wardle, a Scottish businessman, whose business in silk dyes wasn’t doing well, visited the industrial section of the Indian Museum and, in one year, came up with about 3,500 samples of dye patterns extracted from 64 Indian plants. The 15 volumes of Wardle’s Specimen of Fabrics Dyed with Indian Dyes, published in 1886 and preserved with the BSI, has also been digitised.”

Florida Museum: Rare lichen unique to Florida discovered in museum collections, may be extinct

Florida Museum: Rare lichen unique to Florida discovered in museum collections, may be extinct. “Scientists have found a new species of fleshy verdigris lichen, thanks to DNA analysis of museum specimens. Misidentified by its original collectors, the lichen is only known from 32 specimens collected in North and Central Florida scrubland between 1885 and 1985. Now the hunt is on to find it in the wild – if it still exists.”

Natural History Museum (UK): Natural History Museum allocated £180 million in Budget to create state-of-the art research centre at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus

Natural History Museum (UK): Natural History Museum allocated £180 million in Budget to create state-of-the art research centre at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. “The collection of 80 million specimens, spanning 4.5 billion years from the formation of the solar system to the present day, is globally unique and scientifically invaluable. It plays a key role in the UK’s international reputation as a scientific leader. The development of new world-class accommodation will allow the Museum to move collections currently at risk of deterioration and irreparable damage from being housed in functionally and physically obsolete 20th century buildings to facilities which meet international collection standards.”

Florida Museum: Digital records of preserved plants and animals change how scientists explore the world

Florida Museum: Digital records of preserved plants and animals change how scientists explore the world. “There’s a whole world behind the scenes at natural history museums that most people never see. Museum collections house millions upon millions of dinosaur bones, pickled sharks, dried leaves, and every other part of the natural world you can think of–more than could ever be put on display. Instead, these specimens are used in research by scientists trying to understand how different kinds of life evolved and how we can protect them. And a new study in Plos One delves into how scientists are using digital records of all these specimens.”

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.”

Quartz: Historians are starting to explore the dark side of science

Quartz: Historians are starting to explore the dark side of science. ” Increasingly, scientific historians are coming to terms with the fact that science thrived in part because of the transatlantic slave trade of the 1500s to 1800s, which enabled naturalists to discover and ship new flora and fauna specimens around the world. To this day, museums contain these specimens that excited and inspired early scientists but were obtained only thanks to an inhumane business.”

University of Helsinki: Bring­ing nature on­line – all 13 mil­lion samples of it

University of Helsinki: Bring­ing nature on­line – all 13 mil­lion samples of it. “In downtown Helsinki, the remains of millions of animals and plants rest in cabinets in the long hallways of the Finnish Museum of Natural History. They’ve been collected over 300 years, and in the era of climate change and biodiversity loss they are more important than ever. But how will one transfer more than 13 million specimens from the cabinets to the Internet?”

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.”

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.”

The Telegram: EcoTarium launches digitized database of specimens

The Telegram (Massachusetts): EcoTarium launches digitized database of specimens. “The EcoTarium launched a database of its digitized natural history collection Monday. The searchable database consists of descriptions and images of over 4,000 specimens from the EcoTarium’s collection, including animals, plants and minerals. The collection includes extinct and endangered specimens, some of which are over 100 years old.” The digitizing is still in process; it is expected to be complete by 2025.