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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #290722

Title: A plea for a global natural history collection - online

item BALKE, M. - University Of Munchen
item SCHMIDT, S. - University Of Munchen
item BERGSTEN, J. - The Swedish Museum Of Natural History
item Buffington, Matthew
item HAUSER, C. - Museum Of Naturkunde
item KROUPA, A. - Museum Of Naturkunde
item RIEDEL, A. - Museum Of Naturkunde
item POLASZEK, A. - Natural History Museum - London
item UBAIDILLAH, R. - Bogor Agricultural University
item KROGMANN, L. - Museum Of Naturkunde
item ZWICK, A. - Museum Of Naturkunde
item FIKACEK, M. - National Museum Czech Republic
item HAJEK, J. - National Museum Czech Republic
item MICHAT, M. - Universidad De Buenos Aires
item DIETRICH, C. - Illinois Natural History Survey

Submitted to: ZooKeys
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/9/2013
Publication Date: 9/17/2013
Publication URL:
Citation: Balke, M., Schmidt, S., Bergsten, J., Buffington, M.L., Hauser, C.L., Kroupa, A., Riedel, A., Polaszek, A., Ubaidillah, R., Krogmann, L., Zwick, A., Fikacek, M., Hajek, J., Michat, M.C., Dietrich, C. 2013. A plea for a global natural history collection - online. ZooKeys. 10(55):1-9.

Interpretive Summary: Large collections of insect species are needed for identification and research of species of agricultural importance in the United States. Large collections are expensive to manage and care for, but their importance is recognized globally. This paper demonstrates the need, and methods, for taking high resolution pictures of whole insect drawers as a means of recording the contents of large collections. This not only allows other scientists to digitally ‘sort’ the collection, but allows a collection to have a visual record of their assets. Other research entomologists, web-designers, biological control workers, and extension entomologists will benefit from the methods and concepts presented in this paper.

Technical Abstract: Species are the currency of comparative biology: scientists from many biological disciplines, including community ecology, conservation biology, pest management, and biological control rely on scientifically sound, objective species data. However, large-scale species identifications are often not feasible. Researchers, students, parataxonomists, and enthusiastic amateurs often feel frustrated because information about species remains scattered, difficult to access, or difficult to decipher (e.g. technical jargon; non-native languages). Together, this affects most anyone who wishes to identify species or verify identifications. We argue that the natural history collections are the largest and most important source of biodiversity data (for research but also web-based tools such as GBIF). We suggest putting the pieces together and creating a comprehensive global online collection covering most of the Earth’s species diversity using state-of the art digital imaging technology. Here, we will focus on drawer or tablets-based collections usually used for arthropods and mollusc shells.