I have been on core staff at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh for a year now and, as part of my role there, have established a WordPress blog for the institution. This will act as a combined blogging platform for everyone associated with the organisation as well as a more general tool for gathering information about points of interest within the gardens. The site is called Botanics Stories. If you are interested in biodiversity or horticulture I urge you to check it out and add its feed to your RSS reader.
Following on from my previous post, European Natural History Collections – What’s Missing, it is simple to create a ranked list of countries and an estimate of the number of specimen records they have in GBIF. Countries with a score of zero don’t appear in the list.
I am still looking for a flaw in how I have calculated these numbers and would welcome suggestions.
I am working on improving the metadata on European natural history collections as part of the Synthesys project. In an earlier post (Big Collections First) I did an analysis of the data in the Biodiversity Collections Index. I am now building a more detailed list of those large collections (the ones believed to contain more than a million ‘specimens’) of which there appear to be around sixty. These account for most of the biodiversity material in museums in Europe.
As I worked through the list I began to match them up against data sources in the GBIF Data Portal but this task became tricky as there were data sources in GBIF that had the names of museums but were clearly the results of observational studies and not catalogues of specimens. I decided to break off and do an analysis of what was in the GBIF Data Portal by way of specimens residing in Europe. This post is the results of that analysis.
One thing worth sharing is a report I did for Synthesys on improving the quality of metadata on Eurorpean biodiversity collections. It includes analysis of the data in the Biodiversity Collections Index and other sources and comes to some conclusions about how we could increase our knowledge of specimens held within Europe.
In summary – the majority of specimens are in a few large collections. If we improved the coverage of a few dozen major collections then we could cover the majority of specimens held. This is important because the ecomomies of scale kick in with larger collections. One techie guy can support the digitisation of a collection containing many millions of specimens almost as easily as a collection with only a couple of hundred thousand. This is not saying smaller collections aren’t important it is merely a numbers game.
You can read a PDF of the full report but please remember this isn’t a scientific paper it is a quick look at the data to think about what to do next. NA3 Task 2.3 – Metadata on European Collections – Report and Forward Plan – PDF