A portable, low-cost approach for photographing fluid preserved snake specimens- Recommendations with comments on optimizing specimen photography in Natural History collections
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AbstractAccess to preserved specimens in museum collections is one of the key needs of those engaged in systematics research (e.g., Bi et al. 2013; Rocha et al. 2014; McLean et al. 2016). Yet, sometimes the constraints of research budgets and time prevent the optimal use of this critical resource, resulting in project delays, incomplete information, or flawed scientific conclusions. With many natural history museums now digitizing information related to specimens in their collections, imaging of specimens is a logical next step, and one of critical importance to make holdings available electronically to a broader audience (Baird 2010; Lister et al. 2011; Knight-Davis et al. 2015; Page et al. 2015). A complete 2D image library of all specimens in a collection may appear utopian at the moment, given the millions of specimens and lack of financial support for collections (e.g., Paknia et al. 2015). However, outside of visiting each collection to study individual specimens, or requesting loans of unique and valuable specimens, the lack of suitable specimen images means that some data may simply remain unavailable to researchers who cannot afford to obtain them. We wish to emphasize that the approach we advocate herein in no way negates the need to maintain and make accessible physical specimens in a collection. Although in rare cases where the lack of specimens is unavoidable (e.g., Marshall and Evenhuis 2015; Pape et al. 2016), there is no replacement for examining a well-preserved specimen. Our method should be regarded as an ancillary technique, useful when it is necessary to obtain preliminary data or when it is not possible to examine the specimen in person, and for archival purposes.
CitationKaiser, C. et al (2018) A Portable, low-cost approach for photographing fluid preserved snake specimens- Recommendations with comments on optimizing specimen photography in Natural History collections, Herpetological Review 49(4) pp 666–677
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