From Plant Press, Vol. 17, No. 4, October 2014.
In September 2014, Sylvia Orli and Rusty Russell attended the 7th annual meeting of the Global Plants Initiative (GPI) in Panama City, Panama. GPI is an international partnership of more than 330 herbaria in 75 countries with the goal to digitize, unite, and provide access to type specimens of plants, fungi, and algae. These specimens are available through JSTOR Global Plants, and as of September 2014, 2 million digital objects can be found in the Global Plants Database, by far the largest online repository of biological type specimen data. In addition to over 110,000 type specimens, the U.S. National Herbarium has provided micro-imaging of the lichen type specimens and an inventory of the type fragment collection. We have also provided almost 25,000 images of specimens collected on various 19th century expeditions to the western United States.
Some of the topics discussed at the conference included addressing the data gaps in the Global Plants database, minimizing errors in the metadata, and recruiting new herbaria to the GPI. In addition, suggestions for improvements or additional functionality for the JSTOR Global Plants website and database were discussed. Partnerships, priorities and communication strategy discussions for the GPI were particularly important as 2014 was the end of funding from the Mellon Foundation. The U.S. National Herbarium will continue to provide additions and updates to the type data in Global Plants as part of the important global effort to aggregate type materials and make them accessible through one online portal.