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ZSM entomology portal

The Zoologische Staatssammlung in Munich (ZSM) is one of the largest natural history collections in Germany. The ZSM is part of the Bavarian Natural History Collections, a major union of natural history institutions in Germany.

The purpose of this portal is to develop and provide the cyberinfrastructure, including online-accessible specimen databases and identification resources, to make extensive information available about the ZSM insect collections and link this information to related internet resources, including Wikipedia, WikiSpecies, Species-ID, and taxonomy initiatives like GBIF and EoL.

ZSM entomology collections

The Zoologische Staatssammlung houses about 25 million zoological objects. Entomology is by far the largest department, comprising about 90% of the ZSM collections, including 10 million Lepidoptera, 3-4 million Coleoptera, and about 3 million Hymenoptera. The insects are stored in about 100,000 standard-sized drawers (51 x 42 cm). Most specimens are identified to species level, with many of them having type status. Unidentified material in accessions is usually sorted at least to family level.

ZSM entomology sections


Virtual insect collections

Drawer digitization

Currently only a small fraction of the ca. 20 million specimens housed in the ZSM have been digitized, usually by creating images of single specimens, one at a time. Considering the amount of material deposited in the ZSM, a specimen-based approach is very labour intensive and thus only suitable and feasible for a limited number of specimens. New technologies are required to digitize collections on a large scale and make information about collections available and we have published an opinion paper on this issue in Frontiers in Zoology recently.

DScan, a sophisticated drawer imaging system that is currently under development, allows capturing high-resolution images of insect drawers at an industrial scale. The drawer scanning system will make it possible to digitize collections at a speed that was never possible before, and to provide worldwide specimen level access through the internet that is available 24/7/365.

Specimen data

Individual specimens that hold a specific status (e.g. types) and bulk samples of insects represent two extremes on the same scale that require different approaches to make information about them available. Considering the large amount of material that is present in ZSM collections, a specimen-based approach is only suitable and feasible for a comparatively small number of specimens. Our aim is to make specimen based information available through this portal using the interoperability across several wikis, including WikiSpecies, Wikimedia Commons, Openmedia, and through the GBIF portal.

Drawer digitization with DWB data management

In 2016, we started an approach to combine drawer digitization with the data management in the Diversity Workbench installation of the ZSM. The goal is to create sustainable data pipelines with archiving steps and data publication in GBIF and GFBio using the services of the SNSB IT Center.


ZSM media archive

External Links

Zoologische Staatssammlung München

Barcoding Fauna Bavarica

ZSM Collection Blog

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)