Using legacy literature for studies of biodiversity

Although the GBIF network has mobilized hundreds of millions of occurrence records, a massive amount of data remains available only in undigitized form.

Stinking goosefoot (Chenopodium vulvaria) from MNHN - Museum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris. Photo licensed under CC BY 4.0

Stinking goosefoot (Chenopodium vulvaria) from MNHN - Museum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris. Photo licensed under CC BY 4.0

Although the GBIF network has mobilized hundreds of millions of occurrence records, a massive amount of data remains available only in undigitized form. By reviewing two data-mobilization case studies, the author explores how much information can be extracted from legacy literature and how useful it might be. And while the quantity of information retrieved from such documents can be considerable, records rarely have precise dates and are often not georeferenced. The study concludes with a testing effort to gather all existing records for stinking goosefoot (Chenopodium vulvaria), estimating that legacy literature contributes 20 per cent of all available observations.  

Citations

Groom, Q. (2015). Using legacy botanical literature as a source of phytogeographical data. Plant Ecology and Evolution, 148(2), 256–266. doi:10.5091/plecevo.2015.1048

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