Biological Field Stations as Repositories of Biodiversity Data

30 April 2015
3:00-4:00 p.m. EDT
Virtual meeting place:
Biological Field Stations as Repositories of Biodiversity Data
Presenter: Hilary Swain, Executive Director, Archbold Biological Station
Field stations throughout N. America, linked by the Organization of Biological Field Stations, provide a network of people, natural observatories, and collection data. In a recent survey, 86% of 48 respondents supported on-site collections. Here we present a case study of one of the largest such collections, at Archbold Biological Station ABS, a renowned not-for-profit in Florida. ABS has a broad scientific research, education and conservation mission but is not formally affiliated with any university or museum. As a component of its long-term research, ABS curates a diverse, multi-taxon, specimen-based, research Collection used by staff scientists and other investigators. The Collection is a unique, irreplaceable record of regional biodiversity, with an emphasis on the Florida scrub habitat including threatened and endangered species, and non-natives. After 75 years of growth, the Collection includes ~270,000 specimens identified to species including arthropods (95%) plants, bryophytes, mammals, birds, fish, and herptiles, representing ~10,392 species. In the last five years the Collection has contributed to numerous research projects, descriptions of 12 new species, made hundreds of loans, been accessed on-site by 110 investigators, and resulted in 58 publications. ABS has made available on-line ~10,000 specimens of plants and arthropods, and has databased the vertebrates, plants, and bryophytes. Remaining specimen data are not yet accessible online via www-based portals. Archbold is partnering with iDigBio, seeking support to database, image and migrate specimen data to the internet. We describe how such projects at field stations will advance biological research, promote benefits to conservation, and increase educational outreach.
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