Wichita State University Virtual Herbarium: Filling a critical gap
Jameson, Mary Liz, Susan J. Matveyeva, F. Leland Russell, Sai Deng, and Stephen Scott. (2010). Wichita State University Virtual Herbarium: Filling a Critical Gap. -- Great Plains Plant Systematics Symposium. Kansas State University. Konza Prairie Biological Station, Oct. 8, 2010
The Wichita State University (WSU) Herbarium is an active, regional collection with data that fill an important geographical gap in the Great Plains region. Specimens and associated data are essential in the management of invasive species and endangered species, as well as our understanding of shifts in phenology and distribution over time. The WSU Herbarium contains about 5,000 electronically databased specimens, including vascular plants, mosses, and lichens. Our vision is to produce an on-line “virtual herbarium”, complete with zoomable images of all specimens in our collection linked to specimen-level data that enable discovery of seasonality and distributional data, historical data on the collector, and educational activities for using this on-line resource. Newly accessioned specimens are proactively geo-referenced; previously accessioned specimens will be retroactively georeferenced. Together, these data allow for on-the-fly mapping for investigation of distributional patterns. Faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences, in collaboration with librarians at WSU, employed DSpace-based Shocker Open Access Repository (SOAR) as the platform to showcase the Virtual Herbarium collection. DSpace is an open-source software for depositing digital scholarship and scientific research materials. DSpace provided search and browse functionality for the herbarium metadata, and an external site was also added to feature image zooming and accompanying metadata. Collaboration with the WSU Library enables retrieval and accessibility of data associated with the herbarium, long-term archiving of data and associated images, and use of leading edge data management technology and methods. Our on-line virtual herbarium employs Dublin Core schema (the library data standard) with additional Darwin Core data (the biodiversity data standard). The presentation will discuss the challenges in choosing the metadata standards, compiling data fields, normalizing and batch processing data, and choices for image zoom tools. Our pilot project was launched in fall 2010 and is available at http://soar.wichita.edu/dspace/handle/10057/1995. Input of specimen-level data into the WSU herbarium database will be transferred from Microsoft Excel to a web-accessible data repository called The Biofinity Project (http://biofinity.unl.edu/). The Biofinity Project enables input of data simultaneously from multiple portals, integration with GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility) data, and use of web-based biodiversity tools for investigation and discovery. Tools provided by The Biofinity Project, such as mobile iPhone data-integration and geo-tagging, federation of genomics and biodiversity data, web applications for niche modeling and spatial analysis will advance botanical research.