Why Biological Collections 3.0?

15 marzo, 2012

1.0. When Linnaeus decided to unbind the volumes that used to constitute the herbaria (Hortus Siccus) in order to handle the samples as independent sheets that could be reordered, compared, and added, he made a key change in the way the world biodiversity was described and catalogued.

>>>  Heywood, V.H.  (1983) The mythology of taxonomy. Trans. Bot. Soc. Edinburgh 44(2): 79-94


2.0. Collections grew based on the organization Linnaeus set, and were victims of their own success though. As a whole, they became the most vast and reliable repository of knowledge about biodiversity. However, retrieving information turned difficult or even impossible in many occasions, e.g. which plants from that collection belong to this area? Computer science, first with the help of databases and later using the Internet, allows those collections to be used -as source of information- in taxonomy, among many other purposes.

>>> Suárez, A.V. & Tsutsui, N.D. (2004). The Value of Museum Collections for Research and Society. BioScience 54 (1): 66-74


3.0. We are at the beginning of a new scientific paradigm (“A new era of data-intensive science” Douglas Kell). In this scenario, the potential of collections is both obvious and enormous. However, collections must be reinvented to be able to achieve any goal, i.e. their information must be easily accessible and integrative, challenges and pressures coming from the molecular biology field must be assimilated, data images must be connected and related, etc.

>>>  Hey,T., Tansley,S., & Tolle,K. (Eds.) ( 2009). The fourth Paradigm. Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery. Microsoft Research. Redmon. E.E.U.U.