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Southwest Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN): A Model for Collections Digitization to Promote Taxonomic and Ecological Research

The Southwest Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN) project brings together resources from 15 small to large sized arthropod collections located in the megadiverse but taxonomically underexplored ecoregion of the southwestern United States and adjoining Mexico to create a virtual collection network. SCAN will leverage new collaborations and institutional investments into collection resources to develop a dynamically structured, state-of-the-art digital platform designed to facilitate arthropod biodiversity and ecology projects in the southwestern US region. The project will focus on ground-dwelling arthropods (e.g., ants, selected beetle families, grasshoppers, spiders) because they are highly responsive to temporal and spatial environmental changes, taxonomically diverse, and among the most commonly monitored terrestrial arthropod taxa. We will use best museum stewardship practices and leading-edge informatics drawing on recent advances in collection cataloging (i.e., specimen-level data capture), imaging, networking, remote identification, and web delivery.

Specifically, we are (1) assessing and develop mechanisms for integrating different database systems in operation by the participating institutions; (2) capturing label data from over 750,000 specimens and image ~15,000 arthropod specimens in the collaborating SCAN collections; (3) developing and implement new cybertaxonomic practices, based on the Symbiota top-level software and the Filtered Push semantic model, to significantly increase the capacity of taxonomic experts to provide remote e-identifications; and (4) producing a coherent georeferenced dataset and virtual taxonomic identification library for southwestern ground-dwelling arthropod taxa, to be used for ecological monitoring and species distribution/climate change modeling. Thus, SCAN will help facilitate future taxonomic research on Southwest arthropods and usher in a new era of specimen-based biogeographic research in the Southwest by allowing researchers from multiple disciplines to quantify the ecological and evolutionary impacts of climate and land use on key arthropod groups.

Arizona State University
Brigham Young University
Colorado State University
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Harvard University
Kutztown University
New Mexico State University
Northern Arizona University
Texas A&M
Texas Tech University
University of Arizona
University of Colorado
University of New Mexico
University of Utah

Symbiota
Filtered Push (Harvard University)
Specify (University of Kansas)