Big and Open Data!

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Data associated with museum specimens is found on tags, in handwritten catalogs and field notes, and increasingly, in relational databases.  These databases let us to manage our collections, track use, map our specimens, add associated images and publications, and publish our holdings to larger data consortiums and portals.  They also allow the public to search our extensive and historic collections.


DMNS vertebrate records (Birds and Mammals) are housed in Arctos, a powerful database that also publishes to a variety of data portals.  Portals are clearing houses of information, and provide open access to tens of millions of museum records from dozens of institutions. These one-stop shopping portals include MaNIS, ORNIS, VertNet, and Gbif, among others.




Recently, the USGS unveiled a new database, BISON (Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation).  It includes over 110,000,000 records and observations from approximately 72,500 unique species. This huge undertaking, which includes DMNS records and those from 252 other providers, allows users to track a multitude of records over space and time. In addition, specimen records can be overlaid upon over 50 layers of environmental information such as ecoregions, soil types, and climate.


An article in “The Verge” and a press release from the USGS summarizes the unveiling of this new tool. We are really excited to be part of the “Big Data” movement.  


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