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      The collection of birds from Mozambique at the Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical of the University of Lisbon (Portugal)

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          The Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical of the University of Lisbon, which resulted from the recent merger (in 2015) of the former state laboratory Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical in the University of Lisbon, holds an important collection of bird skins from the Portuguese-speaking African Countries (Angola, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde), gathered as a result of several scientific expeditions made during the colonial period. In this paper, the subset from Mozambique is described, which was taxonomically revised and georeferenced. It contains 1585 specimens belonging to 412 taxa, collected between 1932 and 1971, but mainly in 1948 (43% of specimens) and 1955 (30% of specimens). The collection covers all eleven provinces of the country, although areas south of the Zambezi River are better represented than those north of the river. The provinces with the highest number of specimens were Maputo, Sofala, and Gaza. Although it is a relatively small collection with a patchy coverage, it adds significantly to Global Biodiversity Information Facility, with 15% of all records available before and during the collecting period (1830–1971) being the second largest dataset for that period for Mozambique.

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          New developments in museum-based informatics and applications in biodiversity analysis.

          Information from natural history collections (NHCs) about the diversity, taxonomy and historical distributions of species worldwide is becoming increasingly available over the Internet. In light of this relatively new and rapidly increasing resource, we critically review its utility and limitations for addressing a diverse array of applications. When integrated with spatial environmental data, NHC data can be used to study a broad range of topics, from aspects of ecological and evolutionary theory, to applications in conservation, agriculture and human health. There are challenges inherent to using NHC data, such as taxonomic inaccuracies and biases in the spatial coverage of data, which require consideration. Promising research frontiers include the integration of NHC data with information from comparative genomics and phylogenetics, and stronger connections between the environmental analysis of NHC data and experimental and field-based tests of hypotheses.
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            The Value of Museum Collections for Research and Society

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              Biological collections and ecological/environmental research: a review, some observations and a look to the future.

              Housed worldwide, mostly in museums and herbaria, is a vast collection of biological specimens developed over centuries. These biological collections, and associated taxonomic and systematic research, have received considerable long-term public support. The work remaining in systematics has been expanding as the estimated total number of species of organisms on Earth has risen over recent decades, as have estimated numbers of undescribed species. Despite this increasing task, support for taxonomic and systematic research, and biological collections upon which such research is based, has declined over the last 30-40 years, while other areas of biological research have grown considerably, especially those that focus on environmental issues. Reflecting increases in research that deals with ecological questions (e.g. what determines species distribution and abundance) or environmental issues (e.g. toxic pollution), the level of research attempting to use biological collections in museums or herbaria in an ecological/environmental context has risen dramatically during about the last 20 years. The perceived relevance of biological collections, and hence the support they receive, should be enhanced if this trend continues and they are used prominently regarding such environmental issues as anthropogenic loss of biodiversity and associated ecosystem function, global climate change, and decay of the epidemiological environment. It is unclear, however, how best to use biological collections in the context of such ecological/environmental issues or how best to manage collections to facilitate such use. We demonstrate considerable and increasingly realized potential for research based on biological collections to contribute to ecological/environmental understanding. However, because biological collections were not originally intended for use regarding such issues and have inherent biases and limitations, they are proving more useful in some contexts than in others. Biological collections have, for example, been particularly useful as sources of information regarding variation in attributes of individuals (e.g. morphology, chemical composition) in relation to environmental variables, and provided important information in relation to species' distributions, but less useful in the contexts of habitat associations and population sizes. Changes to policies, strategies and procedures associated with biological collections could mitigate these biases and limitations, and hence make such collections more useful in the context of ecological/environmental issues. Haphazard and opportunistic collecting could be replaced with strategies for adding to existing collections that prioritize projects that use biological collections and include, besides taxonomy and systematics, a focus on significant environmental/ecological issues. Other potential changes include increased recording of the nature and extent of collecting effort and information associated with each specimen such as nearby habitat and other individuals observed but not collected. Such changes have begun to occur within some institutions. Institutions that house biological collections should, we think, pursue a mission of 'understanding the life of the planet to inform its stewardship' (Krishtalka & Humphrey, 2000), as such a mission would facilitate increased use of biological collections in an ecological/environmental context and hence lead to increased appreciation, encouragement and support from the public for these collections, their associated research, and the institutions that house them.

                Author and article information

                Pensoft Publishers
                16 October 2017
                : 708
                : 139-152
                [1 ] CIBIO/InBIO-Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Universidade do Porto, Vairão, Portugal
                [2 ] CEABN/InBio, Centro de Ecologia Aplicada “Professor Baeta Neves”, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade de Lisboa, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisboa, Portugal
                [3 ] FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701X, South Africa
                [4 ] P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute, University of Jos, PO Box 13404, Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria
                [5 ] Museu Nacional de História Natural e da Ciência, Universidade de Lisboa, Rua da Escola Politécnica 56, 1250-102 Lisboa, Portugal
                [6 ] MARE-FCUL, DOP/UAç - Departamento Oceanografia e Pescas, Univ. Açores, Rua Prof. Dr. Frederico Machado, 9901-862 Horta, Portugal
                [7 ] CESAM-Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies, Universidade de Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
                [8 ] Estrada de Mem Martins n 251 1ºDto, 2725-391 Mem Martins, Sintra, Portugal
                [9 ] CIBIO/InBIO-Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Universidade de Évora, 7004-516 Évora, Portugal
                Author notes
                Corresponding author: Rui Figueira ( ruifigueira@ 123456isa.ulisboa.pt )

                Academic editor: G. Sangster

                Miguel Monteiro, Rui Figueira, Martim Melo, Michael Stuart Lyne Mills3,4, Pedro Beja, Cristiane Bastos-Silveira, Manuela Ramos, Diana Rodrigues, Isabel Queirós Neves5,7, Susana Consciência, Luís Reino

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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