The unrealized potential of herbaria for global change biology. Ecological Monographs

Although the process of digitization at WIS is not a smooth one, it is relatively smooth and continuous. WIS faces a number of challenges in the day-to-day basis of collection in other natural history collection of specimen.The digitization does not meet the accepted standards. The organization faces similar challenges other herbarium across the globe face in their operations (Vollmar et al., 2010). For instance, the imaging technique available in the herbarium is good, but it is not perfect. Adopting the new imaging could help taking perfect shots that will provide better photos of specimens to make learning easier and efficient. On the same note, another challenge that WIS is having is lack of automated systems of recording data especially during collection. Developed herbariums have working automated systems that do require there staff to apply anything manual in the whole process of specimen collection. Even though, there are some process that might require manual input of data, it better if the firm had more improvised ways data entry. Many at times, unnoticeable mistakes are likely to occur affecting the credibility of the recorded data. Many at times, this uneven digitization landscape can have a negative variation of data hence compromising it in the end and rendering unfit for use (Vollmar et al., 2010).

According to Vollmar et al (2010), 44 interviewed respondents gave their reasons as to why they thought digitization was not going on in their institutions. The table below provided the reasons in terms of most important to the less significant cause. It is evident that from the research, funding, time, and staff were the major reasons while collection permits, sensitive data, and indigenous rights had the least impact on digitization. For instance, funding was linked to salaries, buying of the technology and infrastructure to accommodate the digitization. Interestingly, over 70% of the interviewed respondents had requested funds for digitization of which some never secured at all (Vollmar et al., 2010). The funds requested were to cater for upgrading their systems, buying new equipment, and salaries to pay people in charge of the technology.

Additionally, among 171 respondents from collection facilities in which digitization was either ongoing or had occurred within the past two years, the major hinders to digitization were similar to the reasons proposed by other respondents as to why digitization was not ongoing (Vollmar et al., 2010). Funding, time and staff were consistently the top three challenges faced by most of collections.


Digitization is still a major issue in natural history collections. There is a bunch of challenges and concerns that hinder the transformation as addressed in this paper. The challenges, if not addressed appropriately, could lead to exact and valid data but unfit for use by the public. Research indicates that most facilities are unable to digitize because of limited funding, time, staff, time, lack of institutional support, data sharing, collection permits, and indigenous rights. However, funding was established to be the major challenge to many of the respondents that were interviewed during the survey(Vollmar et al., 2010). Institutions responsible for natural specimen collections should be able to establish measures to address the barriers to digitization.