The UMMZ Division of Herpetology is pleased to announce the addition of our collection data to VertNet, an NSF-funded collaborative project uniting hundreds of museum collections around the world to make biodiversity data free and available on the web through a single online search portal.

“Museum collections represent a truly amazing resource, but it’s been difficult for the broader scientific community to actually use these data because they have not been available online,” says Dan Rabosky, Assistant Curator of Herpetology.  “Through VertNet, researchers can now access data on literally hundreds of thousands of mammal, bird, fish, reptile, and amphibian specimens that encompass nearly every major geographic region on Earth.”

The UMMZ Herpetological collection is an impressive addition to VertNet, as this collection is noteworthy for both its exceptionally large size and its broad diversity of specimens from around the world.  As of early 2014, the UMMZ Herpetological collections contain 433,505 individual specimens, as well as auxiliary collections of radiographs, photographic material, frozen tissue samples, and audio recordings of calls from frogs and toads.

“The ways in which other researchers might now use our data are pretty limitless,” says Alison Davis Rabosky, a research scientist in the Herpetology Division.  “Our UMMZ specimens can help pinpoint areas for conservation, help understand the geographic distributions of species, or predict the effects of climate change or invasive species on our native amphibian and reptile fauna.”

The UMMZ’s vast herpetology collection was recently moved to the new Biodiversity Research Center, a state-of-the art collection facility located at Varsity Drive. The move, as well as much of the database management, has been supervised by Greg Schneider, collections manager for the Herpetology Division at UMMZ.

Dan Rabosky is enthusiastic about the future, saying, “It’s really hard to predict what will be the greatest impacts of having our collections online, but as we are one of the most globally important herpetology collections, I’m positive that it will have a significant impact.”