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Open Access High-performance digitization of natural history collections: Automated imaging lines for herbarium and insect specimens

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The digitization of natural history collections calls for new, efficient solutions. Digitization of millions of specimens, with reasonable digitization costs and high statistical repeatability requires increased automation and industrial-scale work-flows. However, the variation in specimen form, size and coloring creates challenges for digitization methodology, pushing development towards optional actions. In this paper, we report the results of the digitization of herbarium and beetle collections using automated imaging lines. The technology of the imaging lines was based on a common innovation, but the versions used were applied to either 2-D sheets or small 3-D objects. The aim was to develop processes for enhancing the digitization of natural history specimens, but at the same time, to produce end products with high quality. Results showed that the herbarium and beetle collections could be digitized by using automation at the rate of hundreds or thousands of individual specimens per day. This is 5–10 times faster than the more manual methods of digitization which were previously used. The produced data, images and specimen label data were uniform in quality and could be viewed within minutes after being produced. Results indicate that the efficiency of digitization can be raised for different types of natural history specimens by use of automation and well-defined processes, and the increase in production rate does not reduce the quality of the end-results.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Digitarium, SIB Labs, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland;, Email: [email protected] 2: Digitarium, SIB Labs, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland

Publication date: 22 December 2014

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