|TO:||Members of the Biodiversity Research Community|
|SUBJECT:||Planned merger of Index Herbariorum, Biodiversity Collections Index (BCI), and biorepositories.org|
|FROM:||Barbara Thiers, New York Botanical Garden|
|Roger Hyam, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh|
|David Schindel, Consortium for the Barcode of Life, Smithsonian Institution|
Biorepositories are the backbone of biodiversity research because they house the specimens, frozen tissue and DNA, and their associated data and metadata. A centralized online registry of repositories would greatly improve access to the collections, their specimens, and associated information. There are currently several sources of this information and we are pleased to announce the planned merger of the three online registries that we oversee. Our respective databases were created to provide important information and services to the community. We believe that in creating a single merged resource, we can preserve all these important functions while providing a single portal for access and updates.
- Index Herbariorum, currently hosted and managed by the New York Botanical Garden, is the longest-serving of the three online registries. It contains extensive information on the contents and staff of major herbaria around the world;
- BCI, a partnership between Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, GBIF and TDWG, and currently hosted by RBGE. BCI has assigned LSIDs to all the collections in Index Herbariorum and many other repositories and has created web services that make this information more accessible; and
- Biorepositories.org, developed and managed by the Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) has mobilized institutional data collected by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, US National Institutes of Health, with the goal of linking voucher specimens in biorepositories to data records in GenBank.
The data in these three registries are being merged to incorporate the most current and complete data available for each repository into a single comprehensive record. The merged database will be presented through a new portal that will enable visitors to:
- Access all existing records;
- Perform all the functions currently provide by the three registries (e.g., printing address labels, downloading data, web services);
- Enter corrections and updates; and
- Enable visitors to create new records for biorepository institutions, the collections they contain, and the staff members that care for the collections;
The new registry will be a community resource. Keeping the contents of the registry current and accurate will require active curation by the biodiversity research community. The new portal will be moderated so that data entries and updates will appear after a short delay needed to validate the information. The conditions for inclusion of collections in the Index Herbariorum portion of the registry (e.g., minimum size, availability for public consultation) will remain the same.
In deciding to merge our registries, we hope to enable the development of more advanced systems for locating specimens of interest. We also hope that managers of other compilations of biorepository information will want to integrate their data into this new registry.
The merged database will undergo testing in June and July and we hope to launch it for public testing in August. Our goal is to begin re-routing web traffic from the three online registries to the new portal by 1 September. Please check this website for updates.