The volume of data covering Brazil’s rich variety of flora and fungi has seen a massive boost in recent weeks as datasets from around 100 of the country’s herbaria have begun flowing through GBIF.org.
The development results from a collaboration between the Brazilian-based speciesLink network, the National Institute of Science and Technology Virtual Herbarium of Flora and Fungi (INCT-HVFF), Brazil’s national node SiB-Br, and the GBIF Secretariat informatics team.
The incorporation of data from herbarium collections across the country has more than tripled the total number of species occurrence records published through GBIF from Brazilian institutions, currently standing at over four million records.
The INCT-Virtual Herbarium has been developed since 2009 as one of Brazil’s National Institutes for Science and Technology, funded jointly by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). The project is also supported by the CAPES Foundation of the Ministry of Education.
The Virtual Herbarium uses the speciesLink platform operated by a non-governmental institution, the Centro de Referência em Informação Ambiental (CRIA). Initially bringing together 25 herbaria from Brazilian research institutions, the network now incorporates 100 herbaria serving over 5.3 million records online including 13 datasets from international herbaria repatriating data collected in Brazil.
From an installation of the GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit CRIA is hosting 112 datasets from herbaria across Brazil, in total amounting to over three million records that have been coming online in GBIF.org since May, as the individual contributing institutions register separately as GBIF data publishers. This process enables each of the herbaria to gain full visibility for GBIF.org users, with rich metadata describing the collections and a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) assigned to every dataset to enable proper citation when data are used in research.
These datasets include important collections from different regions of Brazil, for example:
- in the North: collections from the Amazon such as the Amapá Herbarium (HAMAB), published by the state’s Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (IEPA), including specimens of nearly 5,000 species from 194 botanical families
- in the Northeast: the URM Herbarium (Federal University of Pernambuco, PE), which holds the largest collection of Brazilian fungi, with more than 88,000 samples; and the Herbarium of the State University of Feira da Santana, Bahia, (HUEFS) with a large collection of plants from the semi-arid caatinga biome
- in the Centre-West: collections of Brasilia University and Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), both with a high representation of vegetation typical of the Cerrado savanna; and the CPAP Herbarium specializing in plants from the Pantanal wetland
- in the Southeast: a large number of collections with samples mainly from the Atlantic Forest and Cerrado, including the collections of the Botanical Institute of São Paulo, the University of São Paulo , and the ’R’ Herbarium of the National Museum, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro including important historical collections
- in the South: the herbarium of the Municipal Museum of Curitiba (MBM) and the Herbarium Anchieta (PACA) of Rio Grande do Sul, rich collections of the flora of Brazil’s southern states
This major addition to biodiversity data shared through GBIF from Brazil is expected to be followed in coming months by significant volumes of additional data from digitization projects supported by SiB-Br, including:
- The entomological collections of Museu Goeldi based in Belém, one of the principal institutions supporting research into Amazon biodiversity
- The National Institute of Amazon Research (INPA) in Manaus
- The National Museum (Museu Nacional) in Rio de Janeiro
- The Zoological Museum of the University of São Paulo
- The Fiocruz health research foundation
Photo: The pink star of the Cerrado trees - Tulip Wood - Physocalymma scaberrimum. Photo by Christoph Diewald. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0