OVert: Open Exploration of Vertebrate Diversity in 3D

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Digitization TCN: oVert: Open Exploration of Vertebrate Diversity in 3D

oVert TCN
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Project Summary

The oVert (openVertebrate) Thematic Collection Network (TCN) will generate and serve high-resolution digital three-dimensional data for internal anatomy across vertebrate diversity. At a network of digitization centers across the US, we will CT-scan >20,000 fluid-preserved specimens representing >80% of the living genera of vertebrates. This will provide broad coverage for exploration and research on all major groups of vertebrates. We will also generate contrast-enhanced scans to reveal soft tissues and organs for a majority of the living vertebrate families. This collection of digital imagery and three-dimensional volumes will be open for exploration, download, and use to address questions related to the discovery of new species, documenting patterns of anatomical diversity and growth, and testing hypotheses of function and evolution. These new media will provide unprecedented global access to valuable specimens in US museum collections. Our network of leading US vertebrate collections will develop best practices and guidelines for high-throughput CT-scanning, including efficient workflows, preferred resolutions, and archival formats that optimize the variety of downstream applications. We will train museum specialists on the generation, curation, and distribution of 3D data, researchers in using 3D anatomical data, and high school and undergraduate students in the tools for creating 3D anatomical models. To drive the use of these digital specimens by K12 STEM educators, we will conduct teacher-driven workshops that generate freely available lesson plans focused on specific science standards that are based on digital and printed 3D models of specimens in US museum collections.

Data generated by oVert will serve as a catalyst for diverse research projects focused on understanding the vertebrate morphological diversity and dramatically increase the accessibility of specimens housed in US scientific collections. These anatomical phenotypes represent a common currency that facilitates integration across the fields of taxonomy, evolution, developmental biology, comparative physiology, functional anatomy, paleontology, and ecology. We will use x-ray computed tomography (CT) scanning to generate high-resolution digital anatomical data, represented as both 2D image stacks and 3D volumes and surfaces, which can be distributed globally through the on-line data portal MorphoSource. With these 3D digital specimens, US and international research communities will be able to (1) diagnose, describe, and infer patterns of relationships among both living and extinct vertebrates, (2) test hypotheses of morphological evolution such as patterns of disparity, modularity, and phenotype-environment correlations, (3) develop structure-function models for testing hypotheses about morphological adaptations related to, e.g., feeding and locomotion, and (4) explore relationships between brain and nervous system anatomy and both sensory and musculoskeletal function. We will upgrade the interface and functionality of MorphoSource, an on-line data depository for 3D data of biological specimens, improving its capacity to explore media, capture standardized metadata, ingest legacy data from previous and existing projects, supply media information to data aggregators including iDigBio, and engage educators and students. We will support training workshops both on-site at participating institutions and national society meetings of scientists and educators.

Current Research

Proposed research uses of data generated through oVert project include:

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Project Leadership

Project sponsor: University of Florida (NSF Award)

Principal Investigator (PI): David Blackburn

Project Collaborators

Map of Collaborating Institutions

University of Florida (lead)

University of Florida

David C. Blackburn, lead PI, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida
Jonathan I. Bloch, CoPI, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida
Gavin J.P. Naylor, CoPI, Florida Museum of Natural History , University of Florida
Edward L. Stanley, CoPI, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida

Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Mark H. Sabaj, PI, Ichthyology, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (NSF Award)

California Academy of Sciences

Luiz A. Rocha, PI, Department of Ichthyology, California Academy of Sciences (NSF Award)
John (Jack) P. Dumbacher, CoPI, Department of Ornithology and Mammalogy, California Academy of Sciences

Cornell University

Casey B. Dillman, PI, Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, Cornell University
David W. Winkler, CoPI, Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, Cornell University
Amy R. McCune, CoPI, Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, Cornell University
William E. Bemis, CoPI, Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, Cornell University

Duke University

Douglas M. Boyer, CoPI on UF subaward, Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University

Field Museum of Natural History

John M. Bates, PI, Science and Education, Field Museum of Natural History (NSF Award)
Alan Resetar, CoPI, Science and Education, Field Museum of Natural History
Ben D. Marks, CoPI, Science and Education, Field Museum of Natural History

Harvard University

James Hanken, PI, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University (NSF Award)

Louisiana State University & Agricultural and Mechanical College

Christopher C. Austin, PI, Museum of Natural Science, Louisiana State University & Agricultural and Mechanical College
Jake Esselstyn, CoPI, Museum of Natural Science, Louisiana State University & Agricultural and Mechanical College

Texas A&M University

Kevin W. Conway, PI, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Science and Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections, Texas A&M University
Heather L. Prestridge, CoPI, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Science and Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections, Texas A&M University
Sarah Potvin, CoPI, University Libraries, Texas A&M University

University of California, Berkeley

Carol L. Spencer, PI, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley (NSF Award)
Michelle S. Koo, CoPI, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley

University of California, San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Philip A. Hastings, PI, Marine Vertebrate Collection, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego (NSF Award)
Benjamin Frable, CoPI, Marine Vertebrate Collection, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego

University of Chicago

Zhe-Xi Luo, CoPI, Research Associate in Integrative Research Center, and Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, University of Chicago

University of Kansas

Luke J. Welton, PI, Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas (NSF Award)
A. Townsend Peterson, Co-PI, Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas
Robert G. Moyle, CoPI, Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas
Richard E. Glor, CoPI, Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas

University of Michigan

Daniel L. Rabosky, PI, UM Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan (NSF Award)
Priscilla K. Tucker, Co-PI, UM Museum of Zoology (Director), University of Michigan
Alison R. Davis Rabosky, Senior Personnel, UM Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan
Cody W. Thompson, Senior Personnel, UM Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan

University of Texas, Austin

David C. Cannatella, PI, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Texas, Austin
Travis J. LaDuc, CoPI, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Texas, Austin
Dean Hendrickson, Senior Personnel, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Texas, Austin

University of Washington

Luke M. Tornabene, PI, Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington (NSF Award)
Sharlene Santana, CoPI, Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington
Adam P. Summers, CoPI, Friday Harbor Laboratories, University of Washington
Katherine Maslenikov, Senior Personnel, Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington
http://www.morphosource.org/Detail/ProjectDetail/Show/project_id/220

Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Sarah K. Huber, PI, Nunnally Ichthyology Collection, Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Eric J. Hilton, CoPI, Nunnally Ichthyology Collection and Fisheries Science, Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Yale University, Peabody Museum of Natural History

Gregory J. Watkins-Colwell, PI, Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University (NSF Award)
Bhart-Anjan Bhullar, CoPI, Department of Geology & Geophysics, Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University

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