Digitalization of the Thunberg botanical collection

Time period: 2013-09-01 to 2015-08-31

Project leader: Stefan Ekman

Funder: Vinnova

Type of award: Project grant

Total fundning: 227 650 SEK

Purpose and goal: In biology, scientific nomenclature is governed by ´types´, preserved specimens usually examined by the describing researcher. Carl Peter Thunberg, Linnaean pupil, visited Japan in 1775-76 and collected and named numerous plants. These are preserved at the Museum of Evolution in Uppsala. They have been poorly investigated and hard to access by Japanese researchers and consequently we carried out a project, the aims of which were to make available high-resolution images of all Thunberg´s Japanese plants as well as check how far the identity of the types agreed with current name use. Expected results and effects: The specific outcome of the project is a web site with an embedded database of all Japanese plants in the Thunberg herbarium, including high-resolution images and all available metadata. The identity of the type specimens were checked against current name use as far as expert knowledge has been available. Future investigations into Thunberg´s Japanese plants will become necessary as knowledge of plant classification improves. Such investigations will be greatly facilitated by the existence of the database, where images can be reviewed by researchers any time. Approach and implementation: The project is based on a close cooperation between the Museum of Evolution at Uppsala University and the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tsukuba, Japan. Together, we have inventoried and scanned all of Thunberg´s Japanese Plants, reviewed the identity of the specimens, and built the database and web site to best accommodate the needs of the researching community.