Data are preserved when they are perpetually discoverable, but even in the Information Age, discovery of legacy data appropriate to particular investigations is uncertain. Secure Internet storage is necessary but insufficient. Data can be discovered only when they are adequately described, and visibility increases markedly if the data are related to other data that are receiving usage. Such relationships can be built within (1) the framework of a relational database, or (1) they can be built among separate resources, within the framework of the Internet. Evolving primarily around biological collections, Arctos is a database that does both of these tasks. It includes data structures for a diversity of specimen attributes, essentially all collection-management tasks, plus literature citations, project descriptions, etc. As a centralized collaboration of several university museums, Arctos is an ideal environment for capitalizing on the many relationships that often exist between items in separate collections. Arctos is related to NIH’s DNA-sequence repository (GenBank) with record-to-record reciprocal linkages, and it serves data to several discipline-specific web portals, including the Global Biodiversity Information Network (GBIF). The University of Alaska Museum’s paleontological collection is Arctos’s recent extension beyond the constraints of neontology. With about 1.3 million cataloged items, additional collections are being added each year.
Additional publication details
Abstract or summary
ARCTOS: a relational database relating specimens, specimen-based science, and archival documentation