Expanding the visibility of the Lagos Herbarium through digitization and mobilization of plant specimen data

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Detail of Alstonia (Alstonia congensis) specimen collected in Nigeria. Photo via University of South Florida Herbarium (USF) , licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Established 1971, the University of Lagos Herbarium (LUH) is one of the oldest institutional herbaria in Nigeria, located in the Department of Botany, University of Lagos. The herbarium provides services to students, researchers, scientist, and conservationists within Lagos and the country at large. It houses approximately 20,000 plant specimens, 70 per cent of which are vascular plants.

However none of these are visible online or represented in GBIF records, as the specimens are either uncatalogued or listed in hand-written notes in registers. While duplicates from its collections have been shared with other herbaria around the world, the herbarium needs to digitize its collections to expand its visibility and reach. Therefore, this project seeks to digitize and publish information from preserved vascular plant collections as well as associated metadata and images at LUH to ensure access for conservation assessments, policy making and stakeholder use.

The project team is partnering the University's Department of Zoology (already a GBIF data publisher) for data entry, management, and cleaning training, with the goal of contributing datasets of at least 10,000 specimen records. Information from vouchers will be prepared in Darwin Core format, and each occurrence will include geographic coordinates and digital image of specimen. An electronic key will be developed for identification of the samples and made available online.

This project aims to:

  • fill taxonomic and geographical gaps in the GBIF database
  • publish articles on mobilization of herbarium specimen in an open access peer-reviewed journal
  • organize a webinar on digitization of herbarium specimen on YouTube
  • host a hands-on workshop to build the capacity for local researchers, students and other institutions with existing herbarium collections
  • present the work at a scientific conference

It is expected that access to published data will foster the development of management interventions and contribute to developing national conservation priorities.

Project progress

Following the award of the BID grant, the project began with an inception meeting of project partners and relevant institutional stakeholders to kick-off the project and work out modalities for its successful implementation.

By the time of the midterm report a total of 2,500 specimen data records have been mobilized. About 978 occurrence data have been published on GBIF by the time of the midterm reporting, while further work is being done.

An engagement meeting of stakeholders including data holders within Lagos state, students, policy makers and researchers was held in January 2022, to sensitize them about the project. As a result of the engagement meeting, the Lagos state Ministry of the Environment and Water resources has partnered with the project team in February 2022 and a capacity building training was organized for its members of staff.

Key achievements of the project:

• The project trained a total of 59 individuals on Digitization, Mobilization and Applications of Plant specimen data for policy making and conservation
• A total of 15,039 plant specimen data were mobilized
• A research article on useful plants in Lagos herbarium was published
• A policy brief was developed for conservation of plant diversity in Lagos
• A user friendly electronic identification access key – (LUCID) was deployed for ease of identification of species
• A guide to plant digitization and mobilization techniques was produced through the webinar and deposited on youtube

Key Impact:

• Foster data sharing and collaboration amongst stakeholders for effective assessment of biodiversity data in Lagos
• Improved access to and use of accurate biodiversity information in conservation and development planning
• Provide insight into spatio-temporal distribution of plant species for improved conservation schemes
• Enhanced visibility and open access to the Lagos University Herbarium
• Increased capacity in biodiversity informatics and data handling

€ {{ 18133 | localNumber }}
€ {{ 5001 | localNumber }}
Type of grant
Institution-level biodiversity data mobilization grant
5 April 2021 - 30 December 2022
Project identifier
Funded by
  • Centre for Biodiversity Conservation & Ecosystem Management- CEBCEM,Unilag
  • Department of Zoology, University of Lagos
  • Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources
  • Department of Botany University of Lagos
Contact details

Temitope Onuminya
Department of Botany
University of Lagos
23401 Akoka Yaba

€ {{ 18133 | localNumber}}