The invertebrate zoology collections at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Photo by Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution
Natural history museums and collections are libraries of life that catalog the planet’s diversity, keeping records about where, when and what they collect. Taken with the collections they describe, these records help scientists study how life on Earth is responding to broad changes on the planet. The Genomic Observatories Metadatabase creates tools for scientists conducting cutting-edge biodiversity genomic research to share and reuse genetic data for environmental and ecological analyses, like natural history museums do with the information they keep about the forms of life they collect.
Christopher Meyer, research zoologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, said he and his colleagues devoted the time and resources to developing the Genomic Observatories Metadatabase because they knew it would be a powerful tool to accelerate discovery. As museum scientists, they recognize the value of tracking and preserving information. And as a leader in acquisition and dissemination of knowledge about biodiversity, Meyer said, it was important for the National Museum of Natural History to play a key role.