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.)

How to avoid 100 emails a day but still stay in touch via GitHub?

by Teresa J. Mayfield-Meyer

With GitHub, you can set notifications to be either e-mail or web. As most of us know, you will get an e-mail every time comments on a GitHub issue you are watching. Wait, I’m watching issues?


To see what you are watching, in GitHub, click on the small bell with a blue dot next to your avatar. It will first bring up a list of notifications (where you’ll find the list of issues if you subscribe via web) and the next tab is watching. This lists all the threads you are watching and also getting notifications for. Unwatch any you do not want notifications for.

If you want to stop receiving GitHub emails but want to continue to watch, you can switch to the “web” notification method. This method will mean you do not get any of the emails! In your GitHub profile  (drop down from your avatar in the top right), select settings > Notifications and change “watching” and “Participating” to “Web”.

Make sure to then set a reminder on your calendar to go to GitHub to check the notifications!  You can peruse the list, read the issues that interest you and mark those that don’t as “read”.

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.) 

ORCIDs and Arctos

by Teresa J. Mayfield-Meyer

ORCID is an alternate address in Arctos. 

What’s an ORCID? ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher and supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities ensuring that your work is recognized. An ORCID is also one of the ways to get your name into to Bloodhound which will use your ORCID or Wikidata entry to claim the natural history specimens you collected or identified, track their use in new science, and help acknowledge your peers, mentors, and organizations (even outside of Arctos). ORCID’s were used in Ozymandias, a 2018 GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge prize-winning project which lets people explore millions of relationships to investigate a particular species, the range of a researcher’s activities or the research output associated with a particular institution. Find out more about ORCID by visiting https://orcid.org/.

If you already have an ORCID, please edit your Arctos Agent record and add it. Don’t have an ORCID? Get one! ORCID is becoming the accepted place for biodiversity data aggregators to suss out agent names. Including your ORCID in your Arctos Agent profile will make you and your work more discoverable.