Australia’s Virtual Herbarium

Australia’s Virtual Herbarium
January 21, 2009 Sarah Nisbet

Australia’s Virtual Herbarium (AVH) provides web-based access to a federation of Australia’s 6 million plant specimen records held in major herbaria across the country, and makes them available over the internet to researchers and the public.

Researchers can select specimens by family, genus, species, the herbarium where they are stored, and when, where and by whom they were collected.

Information is provided about each specimen, including its biological name, associated species and ecological preferences. The specimen information can be provided on the web page either as a table or a map showing the location of the speciments, or it can be obtained as a file in one of a selection of formats.

To facilitate getting the data into the AVH database, administrators can upload data in a variety of industry standard formats.

The data deluge is a major challenge for researchers; how can data from different studies, different research groups, and in different formats be integrated and shared with collaborators and other researchers?

eResearch SA has been working with special interest groups to develop solutions to the data problem. Using advanced information communication technologies, we’re building web-based data repositories for controlled data sharing and public access.

The AVH is a pioneering effort with particular value in displaying information about the geographic distribution of species, enhanced by images, descriptive text and identification tools. This is transforming the use of data that stretches as far back as the earliest days of European settlement.

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