The U-M Herbarium has completed a five-year project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to image and database its rich holdings of type collections of plants and fungi. A type specimen is the specimen which formed the basis of the original description of an organism.
This is part of a broader effort called the Global Plants Initiative (GPI) to digitize type collections of most major herbaria worldwide. The resulting scans and associated material have been made available online through the JSTOR Plant Science website.
Mainly through the efforts of Heather Huggins, a research museum collections specialist, over 23,000 type specimens were imaged and digitized. All specimens that were flattened and pressed were imaged, but 2,900 bulky lichen and fungal types were sent to the Field Museum in Chicago to be photographed with a specialized system adopted specifically for the GPI.
As part of an ongoing effort to continue databasing type specimens and to guarantee support for the initiative in the future, Professor Paul Berry, director of the U-M Herbarium, was elected to the GPI steering committee in 2012. The committee aims to encourage other institutions to join GPI, to continue to enhance the overall utility of the website, and more generally to integrate the initiative into broader informatics and digitization projects at national and international levels.
Caption: From 1964 - Cosmos mcvaughii, scanned from the Chicago Natural History Museum