A digital type catalogue of fishes in German research collections
Basic species and specimen-linked information revived for modern approaches
in biology.

Umbrella Project GBIF-D-Vertebrata

Project description

Basic species and specimen-linked information revived for modern approaches
in biology A digital type catalogue of fishes in German research collections

Umbrella project: Node GBIF-D-Vert


Abstract:
Aimed primarily at the most valuable type material, the digital catalogue currently includes data sets on 7381 lots of type specimens and type series including key references to all and 465 images at present. The data entries are fairly complete for most collections. Further 850 data sets on historically important specimens have been entered at ZMB in Berlin.

Objectives:
The focus of the work in this subproject is on improvement of the availability of reliable basal taxonomic and accession data of the primary type specimens of fishes stored in the seven larger and two smaller German research collections, because these produce the crucial reference system of taxonomy and nomenclature for survey of biodiversity and a multitude of applied approaches in biological sciences. "Fishes", closely approach 30.000 recognised species today. Many new species descriptions each year indicate a still insufficient basic knowledge of limnic and marine habitats remote of regular human activities. At the same time fishes form an important food resource for humans and as such are an essential economic factor. Over-exploitation and environmental change are slogans often connected with fish stock evaluation and recruitment of populations. It is therefore expected that the digital type catalogue will contribute much to international basic taxonomic work first and then will develop into more complete digital collection records of wider perspective for systematic, biogeographical, and ecological applications.

The original estimate in 2001 was that German natural history collections hold about 4.300 type specimens and series of fishes. This estimated figure has turned out much below reality by the end of the project. Aimed particularly at the most valuable type specimens, recovery of scattered data and improvement of the data sets is a major point. Some material, however, quite often poses problems of documentation that can only be solved in the long term by the individual research work of specialists all over the world. In view of the difficult situation with respect to the necessary work of research and documentation, we started with the oldest German fish collection of international perspective at ZMB in Berlin and concentrated from the beginning on those major groups of fishes only that include a large component of valuable food species or are particularly important with respect to nature conservation measures. Though a catalogue of the recognised species and types of the major Natural History Museums world-wide can be accessed already (Eschmeyer 1998 and updated online version http://www.calacademy.org) and valuable additional biological information is available via http://fishbase.org., it is not expected that we can finish a complete digital type catalogue within the framework of this project. Up to date 1816 type-specimen linked data sets had to be created concerning salmoniform, characiform, cypriniform, siluriform, scombroid, and gadiform species at ZMB alone or had to be updated according to international standards as far as possible: identified, checked for availability and condition, original description, collector, locality data, and important references. The highly speciose order of perciform fishes, for example, is covered only to a small extent. Instead, we took the opportunity to provide the historically important data of the restored Bloch collection from late 18th century and of the Gazelle-Expedition (1872-1874) derived from former research and collection management projects.

Perspectives:
A multitude of positive effects of the recovery and modernisation of collection data is visible already: 50 additional, unrecorded characiform type specimens from South America described by the eminent ichthyologist C.H. Eigenmann were found, for example at ZMB; the survey of the collector and locality information from different collections generally indicate a far higher number of preserved and documented specimens than was expected in view of the turmoil of 2nd world war. Morphological characters as provided by photos and x-ray images are more and more frequently requested by the high number of international collaborators of natural history collections. It is already felt that this is an important measure to reduce the necessary volume of loan procedures. Certainly the platform of an easily web-accessed collection database will provide a much better survey for identification of taxonomic and biogeographic "hot spots" and lend much support to the study of fishes in particular in those regions where a vibrant ongoing research on piscine species diversity is a major demand.


Project description

Basic species and specimen-linked information revived for modern approaches
in biology A digital type catalogue of fishes in German research collections

Umbrella project: Node GBIF-D-Vert


Abstract:
Aimed primarily at the most valuable type material, the digital catalogue currently includes data sets on 7381 lots of type specimens and type series including key references to all and 465 images at present. The data entries are fairly complete for most collections. Further 850 data sets on historically important specimens have been entered at ZMB in Berlin.

Objectives:
The focus of the work in this subproject is on improvement of the availability of reliable basal taxonomic and accession data of the primary type specimens of fishes stored in the seven larger and two smaller German research collections, because these produce the crucial reference system of taxonomy and nomenclature for survey of biodiversity and a multitude of applied approaches in biological sciences. "Fishes", closely approach 30.000 recognised species today. Many new species descriptions each year indicate a still insufficient basic knowledge of limnic and marine habitats remote of regular human activities. At the same time fishes form an important food resource for humans and as such are an essential economic factor. Over-exploitation and environmental change are slogans often connected with fish stock evaluation and recruitment of populations. It is therefore expected that the digital type catalogue will contribute much to international basic taxonomic work first and then will develop into more complete digital collection records of wider perspective for systematic, biogeographical, and ecological applications.

The original estimate in 2001 was that German natural history collections hold about 4.300 type specimens and series of fishes. This estimated figure has turned out much below reality by the end of the project. Aimed particularly at the most valuable type specimens, recovery of scattered data and improvement of the data sets is a major point. Some material, however, quite often poses problems of documentation that can only be solved in the long term by the individual research work of specialists all over the world. In view of the difficult situation with respect to the necessary work of research and documentation, we started with the oldest German fish collection of international perspective at ZMB in Berlin and concentrated from the beginning on those major groups of fishes only that include a large component of valuable food species or are particularly important with respect to nature conservation measures. Though a catalogue of the recognised species and types of the major Natural History Museums world-wide can be accessed already (Eschmeyer 1998 and updated online version http://www.calacademy.org) and valuable additional biological information is available via http://fishbase.org., it is not expected that we can finish a complete digital type catalogue within the framework of this project. Up to date 1816 type-specimen linked data sets had to be created concerning salmoniform, characiform, cypriniform, siluriform, scombroid, and gadiform species at ZMB alone or had to be updated according to international standards as far as possible: identified, checked for availability and condition, original description, collector, locality data, and important references. The highly speciose order of perciform fishes, for example, is covered only to a small extent. Instead, we took the opportunity to provide the historically important data of the restored Bloch collection from late 18th century and of the Gazelle-Expedition (1872-1874) derived from former research and collection management projects.

Perspectives:
A multitude of positive effects of the recovery and modernisation of collection data is visible already: 50 additional, unrecorded characiform type specimens from South America described by the eminent ichthyologist C.H. Eigenmann were found, for example at ZMB; the survey of the collector and locality information from different collections generally indicate a far higher number of preserved and documented specimens than was expected in view of the turmoil of 2nd world war. Morphological characters as provided by photos and x-ray images are more and more frequently requested by the high number of international collaborators of natural history collections. It is already felt that this is an important measure to reduce the necessary volume of loan procedures. Certainly the platform of an easily web-accessed collection database will provide a much better survey for identification of taxonomic and biogeographic "hot spots" and lend much support to the study of fishes in particular in those regions where a vibrant ongoing research on piscine species diversity is a major demand.

Principal Investigators
Bartsch, Peter Dr. (Details) (Zoology of Vertebrates)

Duration of Project
Start date: 10/2002
End date: 12/2005

Publications
Bartsch, P. 2004. Basic species and specimen-linked information revived for modern approaches in biology A digital type catalogue of fishes in German research collections. In: Behrendsohn, W. G. & Oehlschlaeger, S. (eds.) GBIF-D: German Participation in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility GBIF-Deutschland. Status Report 2004. Federal Ministry of Education and Research, p. 138-139.
Fricke, R. 2005. Types of the fish collection of the Staatliche Museum für Naturkunde in Stuttgart described in 1845-2004. Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde A, 684: 1-95.
Zarske, A. & Bartsch, P. (in prep.) Annotated Catalog of the Characiform types of the 'Museum für Naturkunde der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin' with a short historical account. Mitteilungen aus dem Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, Zool. Reihe.

Last updated on 2020-10-03 at 16:31