New and improved web portals for our biodiversity collections are now online. The basic functions are working, while the specific configurations are being refined. New features and content are being added weekly. Check out the links on this page marked as “New Portal”.
While our basic collections data have been publicly available on the web for a decade, the new portals mark the first time that we have provided data, images, and mapping capabilities in a single integrated website. We have now published more than 1.28 million specimen records via the collection portals, and more than 700,000 of these can be mapped using latitude-longitude data. The map below, for example, shows the collecting localities from our fish collections using a “heat map,” where darker red means more data from that spot.
The 1.28 million records we are publishing are just the first of our estimated 28 million to represent the Academy in the digital world. They represent years of work by Academy staff, and will help us document species distributions and monitor the potential effects of climate change on biodiversity.
Since its founding in 1853, the Academy’s central focus has been on exploring the Earth’s remarkable diversity of life and sharing those wonders with the public.
More recently, it has become obvious that the daily activities of the 7 billion humans who now live on Earth present unprecedented challenges to the sustainability of life on this planet, our only home in the universe, particularly human life.
These two issues are now the central themes of today’s Academy: How did we get here? How will we find a way to stay?
In order to engage these issues head-on, the Academy is taking steps to more clearly define its role in addressing the challenge of sustainability, in a way that grows naturally and organically out of the existing strengths of the institution—specifically the Academy’s programs of exploration, research, education, and public engagement.
I am pleased to announce that a new chapter in the Academy’s history has begun with the creation of the Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability. This new institute includes all of the Academy’s current research and collections staff and activities, and it will also develop an expanded portfolio of activities that includes leadership of the Academy’s sustainability initiatives, integration of Academy Fellows more closely into the life of this institution, and engagement of Academy scientists in new and creative programs of public outreach.
Stay tuned for further news and updates about this new Institute at the Academy.