Unlocking Natural History Collections To Model the Biosphere

Saturday, 14 February 2015: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room LL21C (San Jose Convention Center)
Governments, scientists, nongovernmental organizations, and communities across the world are making daily decisions about the use and exploitation of biodiversity to sustain and enrich human life. Natural history museums and botanic gardens have observed and documented the natural world for centuries, developing extraordinary data on animals, plants, and fungi; yet the resulting mass of information and knowledge is fragmented, unstructured, and mostly held within the confines of individual institutions. As part of an unprecedented digitization effort, several major natural history institutions are rapidly mobilizing this mass of biological data to make it available to global scientific and public audiences to facilitate knowledge-based decisions on biodiversity. The collections highlight geographic, temporal, morphological, and genomic patterns of diversity across a vast range of species. By combining collections data with new modeling and data visualization tools, analyses of biodiversity are possible on a scale never before seen. This symposium will bring together expertise in data generation, informatics, and global environmental modeling from a series of leading institutions to provide a new synthesis on this rapidly developing field. Speakers will showcase the industrial-scale processes being used to mobilize and analyze data from the 4.5 billion specimens held in natural history collections worldwide and explain how these are being used to address global challenges faced by society.
Ian Owens, Natural History Museum
Kirk Johnson, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History
Jonathan Coddington, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History
The Genomics of Past and Future Natural History Collections
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