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					AUSTRALIA’S VIRTUAL
    HERBARIUM

A national collaborative model for
 integrated access to distributed
      biological information



      Australian National Herbarium
       Outline of presentation

• Background to the AVH
  – What is the AVH ?
• Aspects of the AVH
  – Plant names, specimens
  – Plant images, plant identification tools
• Uses and users of the AVH
  – Botanical research
  – Community projects
• Summary
  What is a Virtual Herbarium?

• The physical resources and biological
  information of a herbarium represented digitally

• On-line access to herbaria and to botanical
  information managed by herbaria in real time

• Integrated access to botanical information from
  various sources in a herbarium and other
  on-line botanical information
           Where is the AVH?
• Spread across
  Australian herbaria
• Data distributed;
  resides with custodians
• Access distributed;
  a portal to receive
  requests & deliver data
  in each herbarium
• A common single
  query AVH interface       Major Australian Herbaria
  in each herbarium
  polls all herbaria
 AVH General Architecture
Databases   Gateways   Common Web     Clients
                            portals
  Current AVH Partners

State Herbarium of            National Herbarium of
South Australia               Victoria

Queensland Herbarium          National Herbarium of
                              New South Wales
Australian National
Herbarium                     Western Australian
                              Herbarium
Northern Territory
Herbarium                     Australian Biological
                              Resources Study
Tasmanian Herbarium

Partners being sought in NZ
herbaria and UK (Kew)
       Why is there an AVH?

• Pressure on Herbaria to work more efficiently

• Demand for access to larger amounts of data

• Demand to access data more quickly

• Demand to view data in different ways

• Pressure on herbaria to appear and to be more
  responsive to community needs
   Potential users of the AVH

• The participating herbaria have access to all the
  data at the highest precision
• Public access filter restricts access to work in
  progress, sensitive locality data, etc.
• Research and education
• Public general interest
• Access to conservation agencies, land
  managers, environmental decision makers
      There is some urgency …
• Historical ignorance
• Australia’s biodiversity has been damaged
• At risk from inappropriate land management practices
• We know a lot about what not to do
• Redressing the damage, and managing better for the
  future, requires sound information
• Sustainable natural resource management needs
  scientific knowledge
   – what was there and where it occurred
   – what is there now
There is some urgency …
               1907




                          2002
         What is the problem?

• > 20,000 species of higher plants
     • > 64,000 available names
     • Extensive synonymy (4 names per plant)
     • Many alternative taxonomic concepts



• 8 major government-funded herbaria
     • Similar number of university herbaria



• > 6,500,000 specimens in Aust. herbaria
     • 50-100 data elements per specimen
     • Several Kb per specimen (excl. images)
Specimen data from major herbaria
Herbarium database status
          The AVH Agreement
• $10M over 5 years to database all major Australian
  herbarium collections

• $10 million:    - $ 4 million Commonwealth
                  - $ 4 million State/Territory
                  - $ 2 million private

• Initial focus on capture of herbarium specimen data

• Ultimate aim a complete flora information system
Australia’s Virtual Herbarium

  On-line access to herbarium specimen
   information and botanical knowledge
      What do we want to know?
•   What species does a plant belong to?
•   What is its name?
•   What other species is it related to?
•   What does it look like?
•   Where does it grow?
•   Where might it grow?
•   What other species grow with it?
•   What species grow in a defined area?
•   How did they get there?
Herbarium Specimens
                     Specimen data
Core information is from herbarium specimens

Collections data:
   –   Scientific name
   –   Collection date
   –   Collector name & number
   –   Location
   –   Soils
   –   Habitat (incl. topography)
   –   Vegetation community
   –   Associated species
   –   Plant features, e.g. colour
An Herbarium Database Structure
Australia’s Virtual Herbarium

       Some views of the data
Australian Plant Name
    Index (APNI)
www.anbg.gov.au/apni
http://www.chah.gov.au/avh.html
Acacia
salicina
Australia’s Virtual Herbarium

       Some uses of the data
           Data refinement
Envir. decision making                      Policy & strategy
 •   conservation                            • government
 •   restoration biology      action         • corporate
 •   resource mgmt                           • individual
 •   utilisation            knowledge


                            information
 Increasing
 refinement &                  data
 utility of data
                           observations


                           the real world
‘Greening the Grainbelt’
Invasive Plant Notification
Regional Floristic Analysis
Regional Floristic Analysis
     Plant distribution analysis
Pultenaea species in eastern Australia




                                             Incurved
                                             Incurved
                                         ?




                                             Recurved
Incurved                Recurved             ?
Predictive Modelling
Predictive Modelling
Flora Information Systems


   • Stand alone (CDROM) or on-line (WWW)

   • Generally regionally based

   • Integrating:
      – Plant names
      – Descriptive Flora treatments
      – Illustrations
      – Distributions
Flora Information Systems
Type Images on demand


High resolution image of
type specimen of Austrobaileya
downloaded over the Internet
from the Herbarium of the
New York Botanical Garden
Interactive Plant Identification
            Why it is working

• Communication - CHAH, few herbaria
• Collaboration - long-standing, data sharing,
  overcoming Australia’s Federal/State system

• Champions - management, public
• Lobbying and profile of herbaria
• Relevance of product
• And now…we need to maintain commitment to
  project
                     Summary

Australia’s Virtual Herbarium:
•   A collaborative national project
•   Making botanical information available
•   Using modern technology
•   Using cheap readily available components
•   A model for regional and global cooperation
    Acknowledgements

State Herbarium of     National Herbarium of
South Australia        Victoria

Queensland Herbarium   National Herbarium of
                       New South Wales
Australian National
Herbarium              Western Australian
                       Herbarium
Northern Territory
Herbarium              Australian Biological
                       Resources Study
Tasmanian Herbarium

				
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