2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 29-5
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


WALKER, Lindsay J.1, LANDMAN, Neil H.2, THOMAS, Ellen3, O'LEARY, Ruth1, HUSSAINI, Bushra M.4 and SCALBOM, Linda1, (1)Division of Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024, (2)Division of Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th St, New York, NY 10024, (3)Geology and Geophysics and Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Yale University and Wesleyan University, P O Box 208109, New Haven, CT 06520-8109, (4)Division of Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024-5192, Lindsay.J.Walker@colorado.edu

Microfossil conservation and digitization has been ongoing at the American Museum of Natural History since 2012. This NSF-funded project (DBI #1203394) aims to restore, document, and digitize scientifically valuable Foraminifera and Ostracoda collections. In the 1980s, part of the collection was transferred to the National Museum of Natural History. Over the years, the condition of the remaining collection deteriorated significantly. This project aims to restore the AMNH collections and digitally reunite them with their NMNH counterparts for the benefit of researchers, educators, and the public.

Over 7000 slides have been curated/re-housed, 1,000+ high-resolution images have been captured, 50 type specimens have been CT scanned (five 3D printed), and 7,147 associated database records have been created or modified. Eighteen intern positions were funded over 3 summers for curation, databasing, imaging and CT scanning. All interns were trained and supervised by AMNH staff. Formalized workflows and protocols for conserving and imaging microfossils on a large-scale did not exist at the project’s outset, and the refinement of these procedures has been an iterative trial-and-error process. The workflow was developed as follows:

The state of each collection was evaluated, followed by retrieving associated publications, determining slide and specimen presence/absence, then cataloging, conserving, and rehousing specimens. Database records were created to reflect information captured from publications, slide covers, and specimen labels. Type status was dictated by the associated publication or slide text, which in turn determined digitization priority. All holotypes and some paratypes were imaged; some were CT scanned. Printed specimen labels were generated from database records, which were electronically archived daily, alongside all new images and CT scans. Digital data were saved to external hard drives. Finally, all data entries were amalgamated and verified by AMNH staff after each summer. Future goals include additional CT scans, final data verification based on new protocols, as well as electronically sharing database records and associated images and scans via iDigBio, the Foraminifera.eu Project, and the online database of the Division of Paleontology, AMNH.

  • Walker et al 2015 - Workflow for conserving and digitizing historic microfossil collections at the AMNH.pdf (1.7 MB)