Posted on behalf of Kenny Travouillon, Curator of Mammalogy, Dept. of Terrestrial Zoology, Western Australian Museum
- By 2028 we will have digitalised the majority of type specimens in museum collections and made them available to researchers, industry and the general public.
- This will result in increased productivity of taxonomists, and make it easier to identify species in the field. Several museums have already digitalised their type specimens and made them available on their website to the public, but achieving complete online access to all type data will help taxonomists recognise named species from new species more easily and also help create field guides, with keys to identify species in the field. This can not only be done for modern species, but also for fossil species, collected from more fragmented material.
- This matters because the taxonomic process is still a very slow process which requires years of research before making new species discovery. Yet, species are going extinct at an increasing rate, but many remain unnamed or have yet to be discovered. Digital access to type specimens will help speed up this process and get on with the job of conserving taxa earlier. Having a tool to make species identification in the field easier will also help researchers and industry with population monitoring.
- Resources to achieve this will be funding to help institutions to hire additional staff to digitalise the collections, as well as IT staff to make this information available online for access by anyone.