WP3: Mapped representation of UKOTs data and materials in UK and overseas collections
Data repatriation and open access to collections and resources are increasingly being written into museum and herbarium principles [see Clubbe et al]. UK museums and herbaria are committed to ensure that knowledge held in the UK that can support cultural heritage and ecological conservation is shared with the material’s colonial origins. The current extent and detail of data and materials held in UK and overseas museums and collections is broadly unknown to UKOTs communities. To date, repatriation for the UKOTs is limited and on an ad hoc basis relying on interests of specialists.
The UKOTs are also not often referred to in the UK museum landscape (although see notable exceptions see Clubbe et al). Outreach and educational displays, held online on open access platforms (e.g. Google Arts and Culture, MyLearning and GBIF) will reveal the hidden historical and contemporary links between the UK and UKOTs.
Limited local human resources and scientific skills may hinder organisations in their institutional development and practical conservation work. By developing existing networks, this may allow us to establish future solutions and best practice to deliver taxonomy training.
The project has enabled knowledge exchange between the project partners and stakeholders and sharing of information on data and materials as well as supporting curatorial and educational training.
Outputs shared here as a resource for all UKOTs includes: (1) guidance on accessing museum specimens or conservation purposes; (2) a collection of records held in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) by UK Territory; and (3) a catalogue of GBIF records by institution.
1. Accessing museum specimens for research
Natural science collections and colonialism
Natural science collections can tell us a lot about biodiversity around the world, how it has changed over time, and how to help conserve it. One of the legacies of colonialism is that museums around the world contain specimens collected from once-colonised countries. Unfortunately, these collections are not always accessible to people in the countries they were taken from. This can impact upon environmental conservation in previously colonised countries.
Accessing museum data and specimens
There are thousands of museums over the world, many of which have not completely documented or digitised their collections. Some museum material has been well documented internally, but their associated data may not be accessible externally.
Most museum curators will try their hardest to help if you require access to material in their museums. However, there have been cuts to funding in UK museums and elsewhere, which have reduced the number of natural science curators employed by museums. Many museums have one curator to care for all collections, who may lack specialist knowledge. With the exception of larger national collections, many curators also have roles to fulfil beyond collections management. If you contact a curator and do not receive a response, please persist. It is the duty of museum curators to facilitate access to the collections they house, and most natural science curators are particularly keen for this material to be beneficial for biodiversity conservation.
How to access UKOT records from The Global Biodiversity Information Facility
A key barrier to accessing museum specimens is finding out where they exist. A good place to start is GBIF . This provides data on millions of biological records, including specimens in museums. However, not all museums have shared their data on GBIF, and many have only shared some of their data. You can limit your search by geography, taxonomy and record type. To find museum specimens using GBIF:
2. GBIF Records for UKOTs by territory
As part of the the project the team from Leeds Museum and Galleries have captured records from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).
The results are now available here as resource for the UKOTs to gain greater access and utilise collections for education and research. The catalogue can be further developed in both scale and geographic scope.
The slide show (to the right) presents records for our case studies the Cayman Islands and Montserrat.
The full report is available now as a pdf:
3. Catalogue of GBIF records for UKOTs by Institution
Click anywhere on the table below to download the catalogue as a Word document. Once you have downloaded the file you will be able to click on the links to the records directly.