Mapping our specimens

We recently rolled out a new feature for those of you in interested seeing where zoological and botanical specimens in Te Papa’s collections were collected from. We’ve been mapping individual specimens for a while now, but we’ve added the ability to see where specimens from a particular family, genus or species were collected from, giving an indication of the distribution, and also our collecting habits!

Deroceras (Genus)

Map showing the collection localities of specimens from the genus Deroceras

There’s a few things to keep in mind when reading the maps.  Not all specimens have coordinate information recorded, and some coordinate information has been captured historically and converted to newer systems, producing  varying degrees of accuracy. Also most of our specimens are not published to Collections Online yet, though we’re publishing more all the time, and the medium term goal to is publish nearly all of them.

This means the maps aren’t yet representative of the distribution of a particular species, but instead give you an idea of where some of the specimens in the Te Papa collections were collected from.  

The maps are at the family, genus and species levels of the taxonomy, so you can browse up and down the hierarchy. If you click on the small map, you’ll be presented with a larger map view with normal Google Maps functionality (satellite, terrain layers etc) as well as the ability to filter by species or genus.  If you click on any of the points, you’ll get a list of the specimens at that location, and can open the page for a specimen. Here’s a few examples:

Over the last few months our Natural Environment team have also been working hard on writing background information on the collections, and the research they do. Take a look. It’s a great way to get some non-technical understanding of the collections, and as a path into the collections themselves.

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