The National Science Foundation has awarded iDigBio nearly $20 million to continue its mission of digitizing natural history collections nationwide, making them available online to researchers, educators and community scientists around the world.
For the past decade, iDigBio, a collaborative program based at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, has led the push to digitize the estimated 1 billion biological specimens held in U.S. museums. These online records of animals, plants and other organisms serve as a searchable archive of life and help researchers identify species in danger of extinction, track the spread of invaders, study how climate change is reshaping ecosystems and possibly predict the next pandemic.
Thanks to iDigBio’s coordination, training and community-building efforts, about 40% of specimens in U.S. collections are now represented in the program’s portal, comprising one of the largest virtual collections of Earth’s biodiversity and contributing to more than 2,000 studies so far.
Arizona State University and its Symbiota software package, under the direction of Nico Franz with co-leaders Edward Gilbert and California Polytechnic State University’s Jenn Yost, is joining iDigBio as its newest partner, representing an expansive network of biodiversity data portals. Symbiota provides tools for communities to build their own portals for specimen and observation-based information, including maps of where species live, specimen images and interactive identification keys. The Symbiota hub accounts for about 20 million specimen records in iDigBio’s database.
iDigBio Receives $20 Million From NSF to Sustain U.S. Museum Digitization Efforts
Filed by June 22, 2021on