Maui News

Bishop Museum to Digitize ‘Critical’ Collections

October 6, 2019, 12:55 PM HST
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New grants from the National Science Foundation will fund a mass digitization project of “critical” specimen collections at the Bishop Museum.

A press release from the museum stated that the project will lead to “unprecedented access to data essential in the study of two major biodiversity issues.”

The grants were awarded through the NSF’s Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections Program, which supports projects that improve access to the billions of specimen records in natural history collections nationwide.

This year, the program awarded the Bishop Museum two of its three annual grants.

One of the projects will assist museum staff in digitizing data for 3.6 million Pacific Island snail specimens. The museum deemed the effort “essential in the fight against snail extinction.”

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According to the museum, land snails are crucial for maintaining fully functional ecosystems and have the highest number of documented extinctions, with the greatest losses among the Pacific Islands.

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The other project will computerize 70,000 parasite specimens including lice, fleas, ticks, mites, biting true bugs, and biting flies collected from the main and Northwestern Hawaiian islands, the US, American Sāmoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

“By linking contemporary and historic records, this project will empower ongoing citizen science and public awareness campaigns to understand distribution changes of arthropod vectors and associated diseases due to climate change and global trade,” the museum release continued.

The museum added that these digitization efforts will afford educational opportunities for students and the science community.

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