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

The Symbiota Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN) grew from the Southwest Collections of Arthropods Network TCN (Thematic Collections Network) funded by the National Science Foundation. The data portal houses arthropod occurrence records from the original Southwest Collections of Arthropods Network as well as an ever-growing number of collections. These additional collections are drawn from a much wider selection of geographic locations and arthropod taxa. We expect that eventually SCAN will include data for all arthropod taxa and from anywhere in North America. SCAN is built on Symbiota, a web-based collections database system that is used for other taxonomic data portals, including (Symbiota Portals).

The original  Southwest Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN) continues to grow under this larger umbrella (with the same acronym -----sorry). The 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.

SCAN Detailed Narrative

SCAN Founding Member Institutions

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

SCAN Partners to Existing Networks (PEN) Projects

Ants of the Southwest
Brigham Young University

Associated Software Projects

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