Automated data management in systematics collections
Monk, Robert Richard
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Systematics collections are valuable resources both to the scientific community in particular, and to society in general. The justification for maintaining collections is based on the wealth of data that may be acquired by the examination of specimens contained in them (Yates, 1987). Some of the disciplines that use the specimens in systematics collections include genetics, molecular biology, evolutionary biology, environmental toxicology, public health, ecology, biogeography, systematics, and taxonomy. Obviously, there are many other fields that make use of systematics collections, but the aforementioned serve to illustrate the diversity of use. Collections of specimens have been used innumerable times for many unportant scientific studies, not the least of which was the formulation of the theory of evolution by Darwin in 1859 (Baker, 1994). The recent increase in biodiversity-related research and the use of computer-based geographic information systems (GIS) and satellite-linked global positoning systems (GPS) have renewed public awareness of the value of systematics collections (for example, see Baker et al., 1996).