We’d like to Welcome Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum at Brigham Young University into Arctos! 

The Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum is located at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  The Natural History Museum is a resource for scientists, students and the community at large.  The museum maintains research collections of vascular and nonvascular plants, invertebrate and vertebrate animals which are a valuable resource to the scientific community as well as local educators.  Science education programs are available for K-12 schools throughout the state, based on the Utah State Core Curriculum in order to enhance the education of our local public schools.  Compelling exhibits throughout the museum promote understanding and appreciation for the diversity and complexity of the Earth’s biological heritage.  Through this trifold approach, the Monte L. Bean Museum strives to inspire wonder and reverence for our living planet.

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Arctos Newsletter Access

The first Arctos newsletter was sent out in January 2018. The Arctos newsletter is sent out quarterly and contains tips on how to manage collection data, information on webinars and the Arctos YouTube channel, announcements of new collections, and more. Currently, members of the Arctos google group are sent the newsletter. If you are not receiving the newsletter and would like to join or to view past issues, you can do so here.

Arctos Collection Data Live on Global Genome Biodiversity Network (GGBN)

The Global Genome Biodiversity Network (GGBN) is an international network of institutions that share an interest in the long-term archival of genomic samples. GGBN maintains a document library containing material related to the best practices and exchange of molecular samples. They host a data portal to increase the exposure of molecular samples at institutions along with a GGBN-GGI Awards Program to assist collections becoming discoverable through their portal. Arctos was awarded funding in 2017 and 2018 through the GGBN  for initial programming to crosswalk Arctos and GGBN data standards to facilitate data sharing on genomic resources GenBank pipeline, develop a model for environmental samples, provide attribution between GGBN and Arctos, and compensate VertNet for publishing GGBN data through Arctos IPT. Arctos data from the Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico, and the University of Alaska Museum of the North, Fairbanks, Alaska has been successfully published through the GGBN portal. Data from the Museum of Vertebrate Biology, UC Berkeley and Denver Museum of Nature and Science will be published in the coming weeks.

We’d like to Welcome New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science into Arctos

The mission of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (NMMNH) Bioscience Collection is to provide collections of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, insects and mollusks that represent the natural history of New Mexico and southwestern North America (United States and Mexico), and to serve as a safe repository for in-house research specimens. These collections are used for education, research, and exhibits. We also have an extensive photographic slide collection of New Mexico plants and birds. The staff consists of one curator, a collection manager, and seven dedicated volunteers.

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (NMNHS) Geoscience wing of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science conducts research geology and paleontology and maintains the Museum’s extensive fossil and mineralogical collections.

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(Information pulled directly from their website.)

Arctos collaboration with Global Biodiversity Interactions (GloBI)

by Teresa J. Mayfield-Meyer

One result of networking at SPNHC 2019 was a potential collaboration with Global Biodiversity Interactions (GloBI). Casual discussions with Jorrit Poelen of GloBI after one of our presentations set off a plan for construction of a GloBI <> Arctos bridge.

GloBI provides open access to finding species interaction data (e.g., predator-prey, pollinator-plant, pathogen-host, parasite-host) by combining existing open datasets using open source software. Because Arctos carries these kinds of relationships in ways that can be harvested by GloBI, Jorrit is working on a method to capture our interactions from data at VertNet and incorporate them into GloBI. The process will work something like this:

  1. GloBI selects Arctos Archives via Vertnet IPT at http://ipt.vertnet.org:8080/ipt/rss.do by selecting titles that include “(Arctos)”
  2. Select only records with “associated occurrences”
  3. Create an “interaction types” map from Arctos terms to RO terms
  4. Import each occurrence pair as an interaction claim, making a link straight into the occurrence record in Arctos
  5. Arctos associated occurrences will now be available via GloBI for relevant interaction terms!
  6. Optionally and hopefully, establish per-record/specimen link from Arctos to GloBI for those that are indexed by GloBI.
  7. Then, repeat steps 1-5/6 periodically and automatically to keep the Arctos-GloBI interaction index up-to-date.

For creating reciprocal links into GloBI, Jorrit hopes to use the source URIs. An example of how they do this already can be seen in a relationship created in iNaturalist. Currently, a search in GloBi for [What does Enhydra lutris eat? includes and links to an iNaturalist Observation which, in turn, links back to into GloBI.

Jorrit expects that a similar approach can be taken using Arctos URIs like https://arctos.database.museum/guid/MVZ:Bird:180448 and that to verify active links, Arctos can periodically retrieve a list of indexed Arctos specimen records in the same way iNaturalist does.

Our next big idea is to have GloBI pick up Arctos “same individual as” relationships and become an organism ID resolver for the entire community. As Shannen Robson at UMNH  would say, “Arctos Goals”!


Arctos Goes to Chicago!

by Teresa J. Mayfield-Meyer

Members of the Arctos Community represented both Arctos and their institutions at the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) Annual Conference in Chicago this past May. With attendees from Alabama Museum of Natural History, Angelo State Natural History Collections, Arkansas Center for Biodiversity Collections, Chicago Academy of Sciences, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Museum of Southwestern Biology, Natural History Museum of Utah, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Northern Michigan University, University of Alaska Museum, and University of Colorado Museum of Natural History the Arctos presence was unmistakable!

So what did we do at Chicago SPNHC 2019? NETWORK! We talked with everyone about what Arctos does for us and the ways it makes our work easier (OK maybe not easier, but definitely better!).

We danced on a cruise ship while fireworks lit up Lake Michigan, ate Chicago Dogs, tested our trivia chops in a local brewery, toured the Field Museum and its collection spaces, and danced some more under the watch of Carl Akeley’s elephants in Stanley Field Hall.

But it wasn’t all dancing and socializing. We also learned about creativity in collections from Artist in Residence at the Field Museum, Peggy Macnamera; about the monetary value of specimens and how they can be stolen from Kirk Wallace Johnson, author of “The Feather Thief” (recommended reading!); and were highlighted in two talks (one of them during the plenary!) about the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and its future directions by Kyle Copas, GBIF’s Communications Manager.

If you are curious about what was presented, you can find some of our talks and abstracts on the Open Science Framework platform used by the conference organizers:


Arctos: A Tool to Help Small Collections Make Their Case

Efficient and Novice-Proof Physical Tracking of Cultural and Biological Collections Using Machine Readable Barcodes 

Impacts of Big Data quality and error in digitized collections  

Success Metrics in Arctos (and what we hope to build) 

The Arctos Ecosystem: Using standardized, predictable data to form resolvable, reciprocal links to related internal and external data objects 

Unlocking Natural History at the Chicago Academy of Sciences 

Yes, we do more than data….

Preservation housing of multi-part bird specimen for educational use 

Demo Camp:

Advanced Collection Management Using Arctos: Publications and projects demonstrate a collection’s impact. 

This was an AMAZING demo (way to go, Aren!) and we need Aren to make a recording for us – so please encourage him to do so.


Arctos: A Collaborative Collection Management Solution 

Building a student and volunteer network for Notes from Nature herbarium transcription success in Arkansas 

Increasing Discoverability of Natural History Genomic Resources through the Arctos / GGBN Collaboration 

Mind the Gap – A Workflow for Maintaining Data Connectivity Across Museum Collections 

Yes, we do more than data….

Upgrades to the University of Alaska Museum’s Genomic Resources facility and a novel space-saving cryotube design 

Arctos represented at SPNHC Chicago 2019. The Working Group meeting we had planned turned into an introduction to Arctos for prospective users and our networking efforts have resulted in a collaboration with Global Biodiversity Interactions (GloBI) that may help us with organism identifiers. The Collections Management Systems SIG meeting was surprising for the lack of attendance by the software providers, but enlightening as a discussion among the user community. More about that in a blog at iDigBio. But the very best part of the conference was seeing everyone in person and taking the time to get to know each other! Next year, SPNHC will be held jointly with the International Council of Museums Committee for Museums and Collections of Natural History (ICOM NATHIST) in Edinburgh, Scotland! Start planning your presentations now, we have plenty to talk about! There will be dancing….

Story by Teresa Mayfield-Meyer

We’d like to Welcome Kenneth S. Norris Center for Natural History into Arctos!

The Kenneth S. Norris Center for Natural History supports natural history education and research opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and the greater Santa Cruz community. Established in 2014 through a lead endowment gift from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Norris Center builds upon the contributions that Professor Ken Norris and others made to the field of natural history at UCSC.

The Norris center hosts classes, offers natural history workshops, has a wide variety of specimens for teaching and research, supports internships and fellowships, and helps engage all people with the natural world.

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(Information and photos pulled directly from their website.) 

Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s Phyllis Sharp on WoRMS

Until recently, Arctos members could select either Arctos Plants or Arctos (everything else) as their Taxonomic Source.  Beginning December 2018, we uploaded the entire database of the WoRMS – the World Register of Marine Species (http://www.marinespecies.org) – as an additional Source named WoRMS (via Arctos).  Currently, it is being used only by DMNS Marine Invertebrate Collections.  Because the collection includes terrestrial mollusks not necessarily in WoRMS, DMNS occasionally adds needed taxa to WoRMS (via Arctos).

Using the WoRMS (via Arctos) source has dramatically reduced the amount of taxonomic work done by the collection administrators.  In the past, we were adding many taxa every day.  Also, because the classifications in WoRMS (via Arctos) have a unique aphiaID and are automatically updated via webservice, we no longer have to use the Hierarchical Classification Editor to move genera to a different family or make similar changes.  And we know that all taxa in a given genus or family have the same higher taxonomy so they can be easily searched.

But there are occasional surprises.  The automatic update of WoRMS (via Arctos) means that a genus may have been moved to a new family without us being aware of the change.  For example, we were rearranging our Mitridae family and couldn’t find an entry for our specimens of Charitodoron agulhasensis that we labeled in 2017.  That genus had been recently moved to a new family Charitodoronidae Fedosovc, Herrmann, Kantos & Bouchet, 2018.  So keeping our specimens in the exact same organization as our Arctos database is an ongoing task.

Arctos can add additional local sources, links to webservices or a unique taxa database developed by a participating institution. We are in the process of adding classifications from the Paleobiology Database to the Arctos taxonomy source and eventually may be able to add the WoRMS-like functionality of updating them via the PBDB taxon ID.

We’d like to Welcome Angelo State Natural History Collections into Arctos!

The Biology Department maintains the Angelo State Natural History Collections, which contains nearly 150,000 specimens of all types of living organisms. The collections are preserved, documented and curated assemblages that are important to a wide array of human activities.
The collections are essential to the management of natural resources because they document the diversity and biology of organisms that impact agriculture, health, and urban and other rural activities. They also characterize the ecosystems that we all depend on.
The collections are a resource for many fields of biological research. The presence and growth of the collections at ASU are important to the university, San Angelo and the Concho Valley because they are a readily available local resource for the region.
Interested in joining Arctos or know a collection that is looking for an amazing collection management solution? Have them contact the Arctos Working Group at arctos-working-group@googlegroups.com.

We’d like to Welcome the Ohio Wesleyan’s Brant Museum of Zoology into Arctos!

Ohio Wesleyan’s Brant Museum of Zoology houses teaching collections of mammals, birds and their eggs and nests, insects, mollusks, and corals, with smaller collections of other taxa.
This natural history museum features more than 400 mounted birds, including a golden eagle. It draws researchers from across the country, but its collections are used primarily for classroom and laboratory teaching, including helping students to better understand both taxonomic and evolutionary relationships.

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Interested in joining Arctos or know a collection that is looking for an amazing collection management solution? Have them contact the Arctos Working Group at arctos-working-group@googlegroups.com.