Abstract Detail

Biodiversity Informatics & Herbarium Digitization

Svoboda, Harlan [1].

The People's Herbarium: Digitizing the USDA's Preserved Plant Collection.

The United States National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. is home to more than gardens and landmarks; it also maintains the U.S. Department of Agriculture's mission-critical herbarium of 700,000 specimens. The National Arboretum Herbarium (NA) documents the incredibly vast research carried out by the USDA and preserves the long history of agricultural development in the country. It also contains one of the largest collections of cultivated plant specimens in North America, making it a unique and invaluable resource for the ornamental plant trade. To make the important specimens and their data more accessible to researchers and to the public, the National Arboretum recently undertook a mass digitization project using a high-throughput conveyor belt and automated image processing technology. With an average rate of 5,000 images captured per day, this workflow allowed the entire collection to be imaged in less than a year, becoming the first Federal natural history collection to be 100% imaged. Among the discoveries hidden in the collection were new type specimens, original botanical line drawings, historical correspondence, and the USDA's very first plant introduction from 1898. We are now engaging with the public to help transcribe the massive amount of data from our specimens using a crowdsourcing platform, with the goal of creating a comprehensive, interconnected "virtual herbarium" online. The preserved collections of the USDA are being reinvigorated through digitization, and will further the Department's mission to connect plants and people.

1 - U.S. National Arboretum, USDA-ARS, 3501 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC, 20002, USA


Presentation Type: Poster
Number: PBI009
Abstract ID:852
Candidate for Awards:None

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