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[email protected]: an innovative digitalized herbarium now drawing a web of links among botanists
Iliyana Kuzmova

When [email protected] started in 2006, it was a ground-breaking approach to digitise and document the archives/material of the United Kingdom's herbaria. The website provides a web-based method for documenting herbarium sheets so that they can be accessed by anyone with internet connection.

The United Kingdom has the world's largest and oldest collections of herbarium specimens held in trust by museums and universities. Documenting large herbarium collections is an extremely labour-intensive task and most museum collections are woefully under-funded as a consequence of which most of the specimens are undocumented and unavailable. Through the efforts of a small army of amateur botanists, the plant biodiversity of the United Kingdom is the most studied and recorded in the world. This project aims to apply some of that effort to making the wealth of information from historical collections widely accessible and available.

The latest innovation of the project focuses on visualizations. These are produced to identify collaboration networks between botanists during different periods based on synthesized data from [email protected] The author of these visualizations is Dr. Quentin Groom (Botany and Information Technology), National Botanic Garden of Belgium.

Participation in the project is welcomed and anyone who is interested can get involved. All participants are kept informed with regular updates, and the specimens documented are immediately made available and searchable on the web.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 312848