VertNet merges four earlier databases
VertNet will merge four successful but financially unsupported database networks MaNIS for mammals, ORNIS for birds, HerpNET for reptiles and amphibians; and FishNet. UC Berkeley museum scientists have played a leadership role in creating and maintaining all but FishNet.
The current version of VertNet allows scientists to search these four specialized networks, but only by sending simultaneous queries to online databases at 74 institutions housing 174 separate collections.
"The architecture of these networks was not able to keep up with the demand, and queries were getting dropped or encountering servers that were offline or down," said Carla Cicero, staff curator for birds at the MVZ and principal investigator for the VertNet project. "VertNet will create a completely new cloud-based platform that eliminates the need for any individual collection to have servers or hardware to maintain or manage."
Collection use skyrockets
The MVZ has seen firsthand the impact of digitizing collections and making them searchable through the Internet, according to MVZ information architect John Wieczorek. Researchers used to call the museum and ask for printouts of information about specimens, but they now can do that online, leaving museum staff more time to double check the online data and add GPS locations to each, a process called georeferencing. The information on a museum specimen can range from basic the species name and where and when it was collected to extensive field notes, photographs, audio recordings and information about tissue samples.
"After we put information on our specimen and tissue collections online, usage skyrocketed," Wieczorek said. "The number of specimen records delivered in response to queries went from the hundreds of thousands to tens of millions per year."
Once the collections data are in the cloud, an increasing numbe
|Contact: Robert Sanders|
University of California - Berkeley