Digitization TCN: Collaborative: Documenting the Occurrence Through Space Time of Aquatic Non-Indigenous Fish Mollusks Algae and Plants Threatenin

Project: Research project

Project Details


Digitization TCN: Collaborative: Documenting the Occurrence Through Space Time of Aquatic Non-Indigenous Fish Mollusks Algae and Plants Threatenin Digitization TCN: Collaborative: Documenting the Occurrence Through Space & Time of Aquatic Non-Indigenous Fish, Mollusks, Algae and Plants Threatenin PROJECT SUMMARY North Americas Great Lakes contain 21% of the planets fresh water, and their protection is a matter of national security to both the USA& Canada. One of the greatest threats to the health of this unparalleled natural resource is invasion by non-indigenous species, several of which have had catastrophic impacts on property values, the fisheries, shipping, and tourism industries, and continue to threaten the survival of native species and wetland ecosystems. The Obama administration has invested>$1billion in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which lists invasive species management as a primary goal, and just last month the bi-national Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement was ratified. Among the most serious of invasives in the region are fish (e.g., sea lamprey), mollusks (e.g., zebra mussel), green algae (e.g., starry stonewort), and plants (e.g., Eurasian milfoil). We propose to create a network of herbaria and zoology museums from among the Great Lakes states of MN, WI, IL, IN, MI, OH, and NY to better document the occurrence of these species in space and time. Our network consists of collections at 20 institutions, including 4 of the 10 largest herbaria in North America, each of which curates 1-7 million specimens (NY, F, MICH, and WIS). Eight of the nations largest zoology museums are also represented, several of which (e.g., Ohio State and U of Minnesota) are internationally recognized for their fish and mollusk collections. Participants are located at teaching colleges, research universities, public and private museums, as well as botanical gardens. Intellectual Merit. Together we will digitize>2 million individual specimens from >860,000 sheets/lots of aquatic non-indigenous fish (21 genera), mollusks (13 genera), algae (1 genus), and plants (43 genera) documented to occur in the Great Lakes Basin according to criteria set forth by NOAA. This will be one of the first national efforts to digitize liquidpreserved vertebrate specimens, and the protocols developed for them are likely to become national standards. Our holdings of all North American collections of all species within these genera will be barcoded and photographed independently, on-site, by each partner museum in order to provide students and interns with hands-on experience using modern methods of natural history specimen curation. Resulting images will be forwarded to one of four regional data centers for further processing to include label metadata transcription via optical character recognition and georeferencing using best practices established by the iDigBio working groups. Broader Impacts. All images and data will be uploaded to a newly created Symbiota Great Lakes aquatic species portal as well as the national iDigBio Specimen Portal, and be made available for sharing with other national databases maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA, EPA, and NGS, among others. There already exist a number of outstanding government and nongovernmental initiatives to alert the public to the risks and threats of spreading aquatic invasives among our nations waterways, but we intend to develop complementary tools for educators who until now have had little access to images or data based directly upon preserved specimens. To this end, we will hire a dedicated outreach specialist, based in Chicago, to coordinate a series of K-12 workshops and outreach tools for the public and natural resources professionals to better inform them of the value of natural history collections in identifying and understanding the threat that exotic invasives pose to our precious freshwater resources. Our network team of>100 individuals includes botanists, malacologits, ichthyologists, outreach and IT specialists, technicians, curatorial support staff, graduate students, and undergraduates, and we are committed to supporting a diverse population of participants. For example, an African-American doctoral student in Botany at UW-Madison who is minoring in museum studies will be supported as a Research Assistant, and 12 of the 32 faculty-equivalent personnel are women; several others are at early stages in their careers.
Effective start/end date6/15/145/31/18


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $105,972.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.