The Marine Collection Unit at the School of Marine Studies at the lower Campus.Photo: USP
The Marine Collection Unit of The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) School of Marine Studies (SMS) has been officially registered with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), an open-data platform which provides biodiversity data on all types of animals and plants from around the world.
USP is now part of an international network of 1,130 biodiversity data publishers, which include the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, America and the Natural History Museum in London, United Kingdom.
The Marine Collection at the University’s Lower Campus in Laucala, houses more than 10,000 preserved fish, invertebrate, and coral specimens from the South Pacific region.
It was formally established in 1970, and has grown over the years from contributions by local and visiting researchers, including USP postgraduate research students.
The Collection is an important facility, as it holds physical aquatic biodiversity records for the South Pacific region.
The GBIF registration came about after the successful award of a €61,435 regional grant by the Biodiversity Information for Development (BID), funded by the European Union, to a regional consortium comprising of SMS and four other partners, for the project titled “Capacity building and data mobilisation for conservation and decision-making in the South Pacific”.
These four (4) partners are:
- Vanuatu Environmental Science Society;
- Environment and Conservation Division of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology;
- Pacific Community (SPC); and
- A non-regional partner, California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB).
The main aim of the project is to make regional biodiversity data available, by publishing datasets from each consortium partner to GBIF.
SMS is the project head and the project leader is Professor Ciro Rico, Head of SMS.
The University is grateful for the funding assistance from European Union and acknowledges their support towards mobilising biodiversity records from the Pacific.
The BID funded project will host a workshop in 2018 to train regional conservationists, academic researchers, and collection managers on how to mobilise and digitise biodiversity data.