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Storing vertebrates in the cloud
Date:8/24/2011

ing Digitization of Biological Collections program, aimed at all museum lichen and bryophyte (mosses and their kin) collections.

The Essig Museum of Entomology is also digitizing its collections as part of the Calbug consortium of eight state institutions that have insect collections.

VertNet in cloud by 2012

By summer of next year, Bloom, Cicero and Wieczorek should have the current vertebrate collections "mobilized" to the cloud and have started to bring onboard some 75 institutions now on the waiting list, including museums in Ecuador and Africa.

VertNet also can draw more amateur or citizen scientists into research. Already, ORNIS, by far the largest of the vertebrate databases at 75 million of VertNet's 85 million records, incorporates field observations from birders via eBird.

But the public is clearly interested in other resources in VertNet, Cicero said. "Digitization of original collectors' notes for the MVZ egg collection resulted in a jump in online searches from about 900 per month to more than 9,000 per month, and a lot of our hits are from Google searches," said Cicero, who was a principal investigator for ORNIS. "Putting these data online increased the exposure of our collection tenfold."

She hopes soon to add links to VertNet of UC Berkeley's bird call recordings, as well as links to photos of bird eggs.

VertNet also will incorporate paleontological data, which expands the scope of the original four vertebrate database networks. This will enable researchers to study how species have changed through both space and time, Cicero said.

"Initially, there was a lot of hesitation on the part of institutions who didn't want to let go of their data," Wieczorek said of earlier efforts, such as MaNIS, to combine collection information online. "But we showed them that there are tangible benefits and that more people use their collections. Institutions are now eager to be part of it."
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Contact: Robert Sanders
rsanders@berkeley.edu
510-643-6998
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert  

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