What is Herbarium & Specimen Digitization

Herbarium and specimen digitization captures and stores plant data and images digitally. This method boosts collection accessibility, letting researchers access data from any location at any time and reducing logistical barriers.

Herbarium & Specimen Digitization key aspects:

  1. Data Entry: The first step in digitization involves data entry. This process can be completed in two steps:
    1. 1. Skeletal Data Entry: Initial entry of basic information about the specimen.
    2. 1. Label Data Entry: Subsequent entry of additional label data associated with the specimen.
  2. Specimen Imaging: Using a Non-Contact Scanner like the Microtek International ObjectScan 1600, we capture high-quality digital images of actual plant specimens.
  3. Georeferencing: Associating geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude) with the specimen. Georeferencing allows researchers to map the distribution of plant species.

Researchers use the ObjectScan 1600 Non-Contact Scanner to digitize herbarium specimens, analyzing collections in new ways and allowing virtual access for those unable to visit in person.

What is the ObjectScan 1600 Non-Contact Scanner?

Microtek designed the Object Scanner specifically for capturing images of material objects, ideal for use in specimen centers for animals, plants, and minerals, research centers, collecting agencies, building material manufacturers, art design, and advertising companies. Generally, object scanners require precise image displays, specific light angles, and brightness levels, making their operation and maintenance complex. Thus, Microtek developed this model to simplify and enhance object digitization.

  • On-top scan design protects fragile plant specimen
  • Scan area up to 12″ × 16.7″ (304.8 mm x 424.18 mm)
  • 12 sec @400 dpi, A3/color Scanning Speed
  • 1600-dpi color CCD provides high-resolution image
  • Adjustable scan beds are convenient for objects beyond focus
  • Up to +/- 6.5 mm DOF can get clear extended DOF images
  • Automated metadata recognition ability
  • Image archive and privileged account management system

High-throughput workflows

High-throughput workflows for digitizing herbarium specimens streamline processes, enabling institutions to capture and process large volumes efficiently. Here are some key aspects:

  1. Batch Imaging: High-throughput workflows quickly capture multiple images simultaneously, not individually. They place various specimens together on a large table and photograph them all at once to speed up the imaging process.
  2. Automated Imaging Stations: Institutions set up dedicated stations equipped with cameras, lights, and specimen cradles to ensure efficient and consistent imaging. Operators focus on arranging specimens using remote triggers or foot pedals, enhancing automation.
  3. Barcode Scanning: Before imaging, operators scan barcodes or QR codes linked to each specimen. This method connects digital images with their corresponding specimen records, reducing manual data entry.
  4. Image Processing Software: Specialized software processes batch images automatically, cropping and enhancing each specimen image, which reduces manual adjustments.
  5. Data Entry Optimization: Separate teams handle imaging and data entry in high-throughput workflows. While one team captures images, another enters label information, accelerating the process.
  6. Quality Control Checks: Despite the emphasis on speed, quality control is essential. Institutions periodically review images for accuracy, orientation, and lighting consistency.
  7. Prioritization: Institutions decide which specimens to digitize first, often prioritizing rare or significant ones over more common specimens.
  8. Collaboration: Collaborative efforts among institutions promote the sharing of best practices, tools, and experiences. Some projects involve multiple herbaria in extensive digitization initiatives.
  9. Robotic Systems: Advanced setups use robotic arms for specimen placement, imaging, and data entry, further automating the workflow.
  10. Workflow Monitoring: Institutions use digital dashboards or project management tools to track progress and manage resources effectively.

High-throughput workflows demand careful planning, training, and equipment investment, yet greatly boost digitization rates, enhancing herbarium collection accessibility for researchers and the public.


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