Te Papa begins publication of specimen data to GBIF with WELT botany records

Te Papa, Aotearoa New Zealand’s national museum, holds significant collections of botanical and zoological specimens. Data for the botanical holdings in the herbarium (WELT) have just been published to GBIF for the first time. An overview of the data set can be viewed on GBIF site at WELT Herbarium at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa dataset.

Te Papa’s herbarium holds over 330,000 specimens, of which nearly 250,000 are databased and over 60,000 are imaged. The museum’s botany team are actively cataloguing and imaging the rest of the collection, and improving existing records [in this and that way]. This collection spans the existence of Te Papa and its predecessors, right back to plants collected by Banks and Solander on Cook’s voyages in the 18th century.

Image of a herbarium specimen held at Te Papa. WELT P-027857/A, Blechnum montanum T.C.Chambers & P.A.Farrant. Field Collection 2015, P-027857/A, CC BY 4.0

This release marks a major change in the accessibility and interoperability of Te Papa’s biodiversity data, and will be the model as the museum’s zoological data is also mobilised.

Philip Edgar, Pouwhakahaere Pūtaiao Head of Natural History at Te Papa, says that “contributing to GBIF is an important and exciting step in Te Papa’s journey to activate its Natural History collections - making the museums collection data accessible to all and becoming part of a global digital collection infrastructure that can help unlock the value of museum collections for researchers worldwide.”

While specimen records can also be accessed on Te Papa’s Collections Online, the data in this set have been reworked to align with Darwin Core to make them interoperable with GBIF and the wider biodiversity data ecosystem, including the Atlas of Living Australia.

The botanical specimen dataset will be updated regularly at least every fortnight with new and edited records, and any newly-published images.

Read more about getting the WELT data into GBIF on Te Papa’s blog.

Banner image: Myosotis capitata Hook.f., collected 28 January 2023, Auckland Island, Mt Wilkes, below summit., New Zealand. Field collection of Heidi Meudt, 2022-2023. CC BY 4.0. Te Papa (SP120333) https://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/object/2186757