iNaturalist as a tool to expand the research value of museum specimens

J Mason Heberling, Bonnie L Isaac
Applications in Plant Sciences 2018, 6 (11): e01193

Premise of the Study: Innovative approaches to specimen collection and curation are needed to maximize the utility of natural history collections in a new era of data use. Associated data, such as digital images from the field, are routinely collected with recent herbarium specimens. However, these data often remain inaccessible and are rarely curated alongside the associated physical specimens, which limits future data use.

Methods and Results: We leveraged the widely used citizen science platform, iNaturalist, to permanently associate field-collected data to herbarium specimens, including information not well preserved in traditional specimens. This protocol improves the efficiency and accuracy of all steps from the collecting event to specimen curation and enhances the potential uses of specimens.

Conclusions: iNaturalist provides a standardized and cost-efficient enhancement to specimen collection and curation that can be easily adapted for specific research goals or other collection types beyond herbaria.

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