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The American Museum Bee Database Project was initiated in 2003 to capture label data from AMNH bee specimens and map these on Discover Life together with records from other sources. As of Oct 2009, the AMNH BEE specimen database contains more than 90,000 georeferenced records, all available online through Discover Life dynamic maps. These data have already helped to document the decline of North American bumble bee species, and in the near future will be analyzed together with data from other institutions to assess changes in the status of bee pollinators across time and space.
To complement AMNH specimen records, we have collaborated with colleagues worldwide to compile a checklist of all 19,000 world bee species, with more than 92,000 country and state/province records mapping online as the AMNH BEES (plural) database. All valid names can be searched by taxon, country, presence of identified specimens in the AMNH, and other criteria, using the “Apoidea species” dynamic guide on Discover Life. The checklist of valid names was the largest contribution to assembly of the ITIS World Bee Checklist, and is now being used to maintain taxonomic authority files for the Global Bee Barcode of Life (Bee-BOL) project.
Data from the project are integrated on Discover Life species pages, which include synonymies for each species and links to the Global Mapper. The AMNH Bee Project provides the taxonomic infrastructure for creating and updating the species pages, which are then enhanced with content from many contributors, including images, scanned text from revisions, and links to dynamic identification guides. Global Maps include data from numerous contributors, notably GBIF and USGS, in addition to AMNH data.
AMNH bee specimen records are entered into the AMNH Invertebrate Zoology Divisional Database, after specimen identifications and sexes are verified. Data entry is done online using a platform independent system, with no need for local data backup. This easily exportable system, developed by Randall Schuh for an NSF PBI project, has allowed institutions such as University of Connecticut and Rutgers University to quickly initiate collaborative bee databasing with shared taxonomic and geographic authority files.