Search   |    Back Issues   |    Author Index   |    Title Index   |    Contents

Featured Collection

D-Lib Magazine
February 2003

Volume 9 Number 2

ISSN 1082-9873

Flora and Fauna of the Great Lakes Region

Image of Mushroom

Armillaria imperialis (imperial cat) watercolor; painted by Louis C. C. Krieger. Credit: University of Michigan Herbarium, Fungus Collection. Used with permission.

By Terri Geitgey
University of Michigan

Flora and Fauna of the Great Lakes Region is a collaborative project involving staff from the University of Michigan Library, the Fish and Mammal Divisions of the University of Michigan Zoology Museum, and the Fungus Collections of the University of Michigan Herbarium. The project was funded by a Library-Museum Collaboration grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The project has two main goals: 1) to increase access to the materials from the Great Lakes region, an area of collecting strength for the museums and a subject of interest to a wide range of users; and 2) to test the viability of the University of Michigan's current Digital Library Extension Service (DLXS) system architecture for handling new types of data, such as scientific collections. More than 110,000 records and 6,000 images populate the twelve collections composing the project. The collections are listed and briefly summarized below.


Collection Name


Fish Collection Database

- catalog records exported from the Fish division's specimen collection

Fish Specimen Image Collection

- images and descriptions of specimens from the Fish division representing species found in the Great Lakes region

Fish Field Notes

- page images of the Fish division's field notebooks, with accompanying data records

Distribution Maps of Michigan Fishes

- map images showing the locations in which fish have been recorded in Michigan, keyed to indicate whether a voucher specimen is available in the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology

Fish Species Descriptions

- descriptions of fish species from the Great Lakes region, modified from Hubbs' and Lagler's Fishes of the Great Lakes Region, 2003, by G. R. Smith

Mammal Division Collection Database with Specimen Images

- catalog records exported from the Mammal division's specimen collection, and selected specimen images. Specimen images continue to be added.

Mammal Division Maps

- page images and brief data records of a scrapbook housed in the Mammal division composed of maps of the state of Michigan, keyed to anecdotal reports of species in the state over time (primarily from the 19th and early 20th centuries)

Mammal Field Notes [not yet available]

- page images of the Mammal division's field notebooks, with accompanying data records

Fungus Collection Database

- catalog records exported from the Fungus Collection's specimens

Krieger's Watercolors of Fungi

- images from the Herbarium's Krieger watercolor collection, along with records that describe them

Fungus Image Database

- photographs of fungi specimens, electron microscope spore photographs, and accompanying data records

Fungus Monographs

- page images and uncorrected OCR text of eleven 20th century monographs describing species of fungi

More complete descriptions can be found on the collections summary page, at Additional information on DLXS can be found at

The collections are grouped according to museum division (Fish, Fungus, Mammal), and may be accessed four different ways, via:

  • a collection-based interface to the image and database components
  • a map-based interface that searches all databases simultaneously by county
  • a simple search across all the content in the entire project
  • a collection-based interface to the full-text fungus monographs
Image of Coyote Skull

Canis latrans thamnos (coyote) skull, lateral view. Credit: University of Michigan Zoology Museum, Mammal Division. Used with permission.

The ability to query across multiple collections simultaneously with a single search form is one of the strengths of the DLXS system, making it possible for users to identify and collocate disparate resources. Whenever possible, records were linked to related records in the separate collections to further enhance navigation. Using the Fish collections group as an example, a user can perform a search for "yellow perch" and see the field notes written by fish researchers during observation and collecting events; view images of the actual specimens collected, along with the catalog records for those specimens; see a map showing the distribution of yellow perch throughout Michigan; and view a general description of the species and its family—all resulting from that single search.

Image of Field Notes

Fish field note. Collector: Carl L. Hubbs, 1927-11-25. Credit: University of Michigan Zoology Museum, Fish Division. Used with permission.

The project images are outstanding, ranging from the beautiful watercolor renderings of fungi, to the fine detail of mammal skulls and fish in several preparation types, to highly legible maps and field notes. Built-in zoom options enable the user to view images at extremely high resolutions. It is hoped these images can serve as adequate surrogates for the originals, facilitating remote examination. This opens up the collections to a much wider audience and protects the original objects from degradation due to physical handling.

As this is a working prototype of a system that could provide integrated access to all of the Museum Divisions' collections, we are encouraging other museum curators to submit their collection management data and images, to be uploaded to the site as part of the normal course of collection implementation work performed by the Digital Library Production Service (DLPS).

The Flora and Fauna of the Great Lakes Region web site is available at

Copyright© 2003 Terri Geitgey

Top | Contents | Home

DOI: 10.1045/february2003-featured.collection