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  • José H. Leal

Museum Collection Reaches Out Globally

Today I want to do something different and discuss a powerful resource for those of us interested in molluscan biodiversity. The image below shows the Museum’s landing page on the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). That includes a map showing our general reach (for lots with geographic coordinates) and a quick access to our gallery of images, currently with 2,786 multiple-photo images (see image on bottom of page.)

Based in Europe, GBIF is one of large data aggregators for natural history collections worldwide. But what is a data aggregator for collections? Data aggregators are basically powerful search engines that allow you to search, in a single query, dozens of museum and institutional collections for specimens and related data available in their digital catalogs. Let's say that you want to find as much information as possible about the geographic distribution of a species. A data aggregator will pull for you all the locality data available for that particular species in dozens of collections. This is sort of equivalent to a traveler searching for flights on Expedia or Travelocity, resources that perform searches in multiple airlines to find all the flights that match your travel requirements.

Conversely, one can go to the GBIF "page" for a single institution to "visit" their collection, and this is what the image above shows. This is the latest data upload from the Museum catalog, done in March 2021. Another is coming up soon! More? Click the link to GBIF here: BMSM Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum (


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