Links for Palaeobotanists

Home / Palaeobotanical Tools / Managing Fossil Collections

Preparation and Conservation
Transfer Technique
Palynological Preparation Techniques
Cellulose Peel Technique
Latex Casts
Fluorescence Microscopy and Fluorescence Microspectroscopy
Scanning- (SEM) and Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy (ESEM)
Photography and Scanning
Imaging Fossils Using UV-Light (Black-Light Photography)
Digital Cameras on the Microscope
Cameras With Focus Bracketing or Built-In Focus Stacking
Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)
Microtomography (CT Scanning, XTM) including Synchrotron X-ray Tomographic Microscopy (SRXTM)
Raman Spectroscopy
Focus Stacking (Photography, Extended Depth of Field)
Superresolution (SR)
High Dynamic Range Imaging (HDR)
Image Processing
Writing, Translating and Drawing

! Natural History Museums@
! Palaeobotanical and Palaeontological Collections@
! Of Interest to Museum Professionals@

Managing Fossil Collections

American Museum of Natural History, New York:
! A Resource for Managing Fossil Collections. This website is divided into sections describing the main activities in managing a fossil collection, e.g. cataloging, labeling, storage organization, etc. See especially: Databasing. Excellent!

F. Battista et al. (2023): Post-collection taphonomy, sampling effects and the role of the collector in palaeontological collections: A case study from an early Late Triassic bone accumulation in southernmost Brazil. In PDF, Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 68: 359–372.
"the content of a palaeontological collection can also be strongly biased, leading researchers to post-collection skewed results. Post-collection biases (e.g., breakage, loss of fragments, etc.) are directly linked to human activities, occurring during excavation, transport, preparation, and storage ..."

R. Beaman et al. (2004): Determining Space from Place for Natural History Collections: In a Distributed Digital Library Environment. D-Lib Magazine, 10.

! W. Berendsohn, Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG): TDWG Subgroup on Biological Collection Data, Software for Biological Collection Management. This page lists software which is used in collection management. See also: Standards, Information Models, and Data Dictionaries for Biological Collections.

BiologyBrowser (produced by Thomson Scientific). This is a free web site offering resources for the life sciences information community.
This expired link is now available through the Internet Archive´s Wayback Machine.

V. Blagoderov and V.S. Smith (2012): Bringing collections out of the dark. In PDF, ZooKeys, 209: 1-6.

V. Blagoderov et al. (2012): No specimen left behind: industrial scale digitization of natural history collections. In PDF, Zookeys, 2012, (209): 133-146.

Brent H. Breithaupt, University of Wyoming Laramie:
An Introduction,from Tapping Educational Resources.
See especially: Museums: The Underutilized Resource.

J.A. Catalani (2011): Assuring a Paleontological Legacy. In PDF, go to PDF page 24. American Paleontologist, 19.

N.D.L. Clark (2001): 18. Using the fossil resource: a Scottish museum perspective. In PDF. See also here. In: Bassett, M. G., King, A. H., Larwood, J. G., Parkinson, N. A. & Deisler, V. K. (eds). A Future for Fossils. 84-88. National Museums of Wales, Geological Series No. 19, Cardiff.

! Collections Management. From the American Museum of Natural History and PaleoPortal. A Resource for Managing Fossil Collections.

CollectiveAccess. This is a highly configurable cataloguing tool and web-based application for museums, archives and digital collections. Available free of charge!

J. Delaney (2008): An Inconvenient Truth? Scientific Photography and Archival Ambivalence. In PDF Archivaria, 65 (The Journal of the Association of Canadian Archivists).
See also here.

C. Del Rio (2023): Replicability in palaeobotany: Toward a standardisation of citation of extant material. In PDF, Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 317.
See likewise here.
"... there is no standard for citing herbarium sheets, personal collections, or field pictures of specimens. Here, I propose a simple citation guideline for all these cases ..."

Deutsche Naturwissenschaftliche Forschungssammlungen (DNFS). In German.
Still available from the Internet Archive´s Wayback Machine.
See also here. - Wiki-Artikel Sammlung (in German): Geographie.
Liste deutscher Museen nach Themen, e.g.:
9.1 Botanik.
9.5 Geologie/Paläontologie.

Deutscher Museumsbund (the German Museums Association). The website of the German interest group for museums and museum staff. Go to: Stellenangebote (in German).

! M.Z. Donahue (2022): Collections after Retirement: Addressing the Uncertain Fate of a Lifetime's Work. Free access, BioScience, 72: 718–724.

! eHive (developed by Vernon Systems Ltd.).
This is a web-based collection cataloguing system. Free of charge up to 50 MB storage space and a 5000 object limit. Used worldwide by hundreds of museums, societies and private collectors to catalogue objects, store images, manage acquisition information and publish their collections online.

Fossil Preparation (American Museum of Natural History and The Paleontology Portal). Go to: Labeling.

Marilyn Fox and Vicki Yarborough Fitzgerald: A Review of Vertebrate Fossil Support (and storage) Systems at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Powerpoint presentation.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ): Deutsche Naturkundemuseen: Am gleichen Knochen ziehen? March 27, 2015, in German. About consolidation trends of German natural science museums.

FSB Fossiliensammler Bedarf (in German). Go to: Tipps und Erfahrungen,
PalCol - Sammlungsverwaltung für Fossilien, by Hannes Löser (in German).

L.E. Garinger (2021): Flora and fonds: activating herbaria as archives. in PDF, Thesis, Department of History, Archival Studies, University of Manitoba. Winnipeg, Manitoba.
See also here.

The Geological Curators Group (GCG):
GCG is a membership organisation affiliated to the Geological Society of London. GCG strives to connect every geological collection with appropriate resources, knowledge and skills to thrive and positively impact science and society.

Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik (GfBS). GfBS-Newsletters, and AG Kuratoren: Literatur, Dokumente, Links. In German.
The link is to a version archived by the Internet Archive´s Wayback Machine.

! R. Guralnick et al. (2024): Humans in the loop: Community science and machine learning synergies for overcoming herbarium digitization bottlenecks. Open access, Appl. Plant Sci., 2024;e11560.
"... Among the slowest steps in the digitization of natural history collections is converting imaged labels into digital text
[...] Our results showcase a >93% success rate for finding and classifying main labels ..."

! C.L. Häuser et al. (eds; 2005): Digital Imaging of Biological Type Specimens: A Manual of Best Practice: Results from a Study of the European Network for Biodiversity Information. In PDF, European Network for Biodiversity Information, Stuttgart. viii + 309 pp.

! J.M. Heberling (2022): Herbaria as Big Data Sources of Plant Traits. Free access, International Journal of Plant Sciences, 183. See also here.

L. Herzog (2011): Institutional Analysis of a Natural History Museum: Formation and dissemination of scientific knowledge. In PDF.

E.J. Hilton et al. (2021): The Expanding Role of Natural History Collections. Open access, Ichthyology & Herpetology, 109: 379-391.
! "... Collections, and their vitality, depend on both their continued roles in traditionally supported fields (e.g., taxonomy) as well as emerging arenas {...]
a natural history collection that does not continue to grow by adding new specimens ultimately will limit its utility. ..."

! iDigBio. The Integrated Digitized Biocollections, the National Resource for Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections (ADBC) funded by the National Science Foundation. Through ADBC, data and images for millions of biological specimens are being made available in electronic format for the research community. Go to:
! iDigBio Portal: iDigBio serves as the coordinating center for the national digitization effort; fosters partnerships and innovations; facilitates the determination and dissemination of digitization practices and workflows. Worth to check out: Digitization Resources.
! See especially: Search records.

S. Jancke et al. (2015): Exploitation of digital collection data at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. In PDF, Journal of Natural Science Collections, 2.

D.M. Jarzen, Florida Museum of Natural History: Paleobotany Collection Policies.

K.G. Johnson et al. (2011): Climate Change and Biosphere Response: Unlocking the Collections Vault. In PDF, BioScience, 61: 147-153. This expired link is available through the Internet Archive´s Wayback Machine.

Kenneth G. Johnson (Department of Palaeontology, The Natural History Museum, London), Harry F. Filkorn, and Mary Stecheson: Paleontology Collections on the World Wide Web: The Missing Link. Palaeontologia Electronica Vol. 8 (2); October 2005.

T.S. Karim et al. (2016): Digitization workflows for paleontology collections. Palaeontologia Electronica.

J. Kovar-Eder (2014): Deutschlands naturkundliche Sammlungen - Ausgangslage und Relevanz der Sammlungen als Forschungsinfrastruktur (in German). PDF file, go to PDF page 10. Mitteilungen und Berichte aus dem Institut für Museumsforschung, 52.

V. Krypczyk and C. Veikko Krypczyk, Christopher Ezell (2018), (in German): Grundkurs Datenbanken: Wichtige Datenbanksysteme im Überblick.

! J. Lendemer et al. (2020): The Extended Specimen Network: A Strategy to Enhance US Biodiversity Collections, Promote Research and Education. Free access, BioScience, 70: 23–30.
Corrigendum: The Extended Specimen Network: A Strategy to Enhance US Biodiversity Collections, Promote Research and Education. Free access, BioScience, 70: 195.

B.S. Lieberman and J. Kimmig (2018): Museums, paleontology, and a biodiversity science–based approach. In PDF, The Geological Society of America Special Paper, 535. See also here.
"... it is clearly apparent that research involving fossil museum collections data is undergoing a renaissance, and new digital approaches are making it possible to consider longstanding questions of relevance to evolutionary biology ..."

Jere H. Lipps: Into Focus: Museums and Their Exhibits. Palaeontologia Electronica 10(2), 2007.

! B.J. MacFadden et al. (2016): Amateur paleontological societies and fossil clubs, interactions with professional paleontologists, and social paleontology in the United States. In PDF, Palaeontologia Electronica. See also here.
Note figure 8: Map of amateur paleontological organizations, Facebook likes, and Twitter followers.
"... Our research indicates that more than 60 amateur fossil clubs and societies exist in the USA, of which almost 40 have elected to be part of the FOSSIL network. Overarching goals of this program include enhanced collaborations between amateurs and professionals, knowledge-building about paleontology, access to resources for lifelong learning, and development a viable learning community of practice focused on topics of common and societal interest, such as collections (including digitization), evolution, climate change, and K-12 outreach ,,,"

Giles Miller (website hosted by Natural History Museum, London): Curator of Micropalaeontology´s Blog.

A. Monfils et&xnbsp;al. (2020): Regional collections are an essential component of biodiversity research infrastructure. Free access, BioScience, 70: 1045–1047.

M. Moser et al. (2017): Pilotprojekt zur Digitalisierung im Rahmen der internationalen Biodiversitätsforschung: Die fotografische und datentechnische Erfassung der fossilen Strahlenflosser (Actinopterygii) in der Bayerischen Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie. PDF file, in German. Zitteliana, 89: 291–304.

! B. Muddiman et al. (2020): Paleontologic Data Fossilized on IBM 8” Floppies. Behind the scenes, University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley.
! Don't miss the video clips "Fossil Data Part 1 and 2".
All about carboniferous coal balls and an adventurous action in computer archaeology, reconstructing data from more than 360 vintage 1970s 8-inch floppy disks.

! P.C. Murphey et al. (2004): Georeferencing of museum collections: A review of problems and automated tools, and the methodology developed by the Mountain and Plains Spatio-Temporal Database- Informatics Initiative (Mapstedi). In PDF, PhyloInformatics 3: 1-29.

Museums & Galleries of NSW, Australia: Collection management systems. In PDF.

The National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Department of the Interior (the Museum Management Program (MMP), part of the National Center for Cultural Resources Stewardship):
! NPS Museum Handbook. This is a reference guide on how to manage, preserve, document, access and use museum collections. Go to:
Part I: Museum Collections.
Part II, Museum Records.
Part III, Museum Collections Use.
All files are in PDF format. See especially:
! Appendix U: Curatorial Care of Paleontological and Geological Collections (in PDF).
Appendix K: Photography (in PDF).

The Natural Sciences Collections Association (NatSCA).
NatSCA's mission is to promote and support natural science collections, the institutions that house them and the people that work with them, in order to improve collections care, understanding, accessibility and enjoyment for all. Worth checking out:
! Care and Conservation of Geological Specimens (in PDF).

G. Nelson and S. Ellis (2018): The history and impact of digitization and digital data mobilization on biodiversity research. Free access, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 374: 20170391.
See also here.
"... The recent expansion of digital data has placed biodiversity collections on the cusp of big data science, opening multiple pathways for natural history museums ..."

! L.R. Novick et al. Depicting the tree of life in museums: guiding principles from psychological research. In PDF, see also here.

D.R. Oldroyd (ed.), 2002: The Earth Inside and Out: Some Major Contributions to Geology in the Twentieth Century. In PDF, Geological Society Special Publication 192.
Table of contents on PDF page 6. See especially:
! PDF page 336, S.J. Knell: Collecting, conservation and conservatism: late twentieth century developments in the culture of British geology.

! The Paleobiology Database (PBDB).
PBDB is a public database of paleontological data that anyone can use, maintained by an international non-governmental group of paleontologists. The Paleobiology Database has been supported by many grants over the years, mostly from the National Science Foundation. You may navigate from the
Paleobiology Database Guest Menu or check out the
Frequently Asked Questions. Please also note the detailed and excellent tutorial:
! M.D. Uhen et al. (2023): Paleobiology Database User Guide Version 1.0 Free access, PaleoBios, 40: 1-56. See also here (in PDF).

! M.E. Popa (2011): Field and laboratory techniques in plant compressions: an integrated approach. In PDF, Acta Palaeontologica Romaniae.
The link is to a version archived by the Internet Archive´s Wayback Machine.
See also here and there.

! G. Rossetto-Harris et al. (2022): Rapid character scoring and tabulation of large leaf-image libraries using Adobe Bridge. Open access, Appl. Plant Sci., 10: e11500.
Note figure 1: Flowchart illustrating the workflow to annotate large image libraries.
"... Our approach is intuitive and acts as a digital mimic and complement to the experience of sorting and analyzing specimens in-person. Keywords can be easily customized for other data types that require visual sorting using image libraries ..."

C.A. Santos et al. (2016): The use of MS ACCESS for database in the management of collections: A case study in Paleontological museums. Gaea: Journal of Geoscience; São Leopoldo, 9: 47-54.

Stefanie Schramm, Die Zeit: Die Leichen im Keller. A documentation attempt of nearly forgotten university biology collections (including palaeontology collections) in Germany (in German).

Andreas Sentker und Urs Willmann, Die Zeit: Die Arche vor dem Untergang (in German). State of the art of natural science museums and collections in Germany.

SESAR, the Solid Earth SAmple Registry (an NSF funded project, by SESAR is building a web-based digital registry for solid earth samples that will provide for the first time a way to uniquely name and identify samples on a global scale by means of the International Geo Sample Number IGSN. Establishing SESAR and the IGSN will have a wide-ranging impact on sample and data management, especially with respect to sample sharing and data integration, addressing a basic requirement for interoperability among information systems for sample-based data.

! C.H. Shute and C.J. Cleal (1987), starting on PDF page 16: Palaeobotany in museums. In PDF, The geological curator. See also PDF page 19:
"What makes a good research paleobotany collection?"

R. Silverman and C.M. Sinopoli (2011): Besieged! Contemporary political, cultural and economic challenges to museums in the academy as seen from Ann Arbor. In PDF.

The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC)
The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections is an international society whose mission is to improve the preservation, conservation, and management of natural history collections to ensure their continuing value to society.
Go to:
Collection Storage: Guidelines by Material Type (by L. Elkin and R. Waller).

The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC)
The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections is an international society whose mission is to improve the preservation, conservation, and management of natural history collections to ensure their continuing value to society.
Go to:
Threatened and Orphaned Collections. For preserving the right to collect. See also here (in German).
See especeally: ! For preserving the right to privately collect fossils.

I. Strachan (1979): Palaeontology Collections and the Role of University Museums. PDF file, in:
! M.G. Bassett (ed.): Curration of Palaeontology Collections. Special Papers in Palaeontology, 22 (The Palaeontological Association).

! SYNTHESYS, the European Union-funded integrated activities grant.
This project which began in September 2013 comprises 20 European natural history museums, Universities and botanic gardens and research organisations. It aims to create an integrated European infrastructure for researchers in the natural sciences.
A core element in SYNTHESYS is to provide funded researcher visits (Access) to the 390,000,000 specimens housed by SYNTHESYS institutions.

B.A. Thomas (2016): A Carboniferous Fossil Forest in North Wales: Problems and Potentials Associated with Developing and Conserving a "Soft-Rock" Site. Geoheritage.

K.S. Thomson, Natural History at Oxford University and Oxford University Museum: Natural History Museum Collections in the 21st Century (an original interview, American Institute of Biological Sciences).
Recovered from the Internet Archive´s Wayback Machine.

D. Tirlea et al. (2018) Long-Term Storage of Small Natural History Specimens Using Gelatin Capsules: A Case Study from the Royal Alberta Museum. Open access, Collection Forum, 32: 31–46.

P.B. Vixseboxse et al. (2024): Taphonomic experiments fixed and conserved with Paraloid B72 resin via solvent replacement. Open access, Lethaia, 57.
"... Taphonomic experiments offer a powerful tool with which to interpret the influence of decay and mineralization on the quality and completeness of Earth’s fossil record
[...] we propose a novel method of soft sediment fixation that permits the stabilization of entire decay experiments for sectioning and microanalysis
[...] Application of this method to a wide range of substrates demonstrates that this methodology can produce effective stabilization of samples, including unconsolidated sands and organic-rich substrates, with a chemically inert polymer ..."

J.W.F. Waldron et al. (2016): Building an Outdoor Classroom for Field Geology: The Geoscience Garden. In PDF, Journal of Geoscience Education, 64: 215-230.
See also here.

! Cornelia Weber, Hermann von Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik, Berlin:
The History of Scientific Collections (supported by the the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG).
The project intends to catalogue German universities' collections and to compile extensive data on the holdings and history of these collections, in order to form the basis of a specific investigation into the history of science and a historical analysis of collecting. Go to:
! University museums and collections in Germany.

! Whirl-i-Gig (a software development firm working in the varied worlds of museums, biological research and conservation, natural history, material culture, and art history):
CollectiveAccess (formerly known as OpenCollection). This is a full-featured collections management and online access application for museums, archives and digital collections. CollectiveAccess is freely available open-source software.

P. Wolniewicz (2009): Easily-accessible digital palaeontological databases - a new perspective for the storage of palaeontological information. Free access, Geologos, 15: 181-188.
"... In order to develop an easily accessible digital palaeontological database, three steps should be followed: (1) digitization of the studied specimens, (2) acquisition of morphometric data, and (3) contribution of the data to open and searchable geoinformatic (palaeontological) databases ..."

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This index is compiled and maintained by Klaus-Peter Kelber, Würzburg,
Last updated March 27, 2024