TCN Resources

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How this resource might be useful

These resources are an at-a-glance introduction to Thematic Collections Networks and Partner to Existing Network (TCNs/PENs), including a contact who has volunteered to answer questions for each project, and some rudimentary information about the organisms in their proposal. This information may be useful to anyone writing a proposal, interested to see what others are doing, with what digitization technology; or who has recently received funding and is looking for digitization tips and advice from like-minded people.

Brief background

NSF's Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections (ADBC) initiative is funding iDigBio to be the hub to serve the digitized collections from TCNs projects (networks of institutions organized around a theme). Sometimes the theme includes a research question. RDCNs ('Regional' Digitization Collections Networks, managed by Collections in Support of Biological Research (CSBR)) are like a TCN, but not so closely tied managerially to iDigBio and the TCNs. As the hub, iDigBio seeks to serve all digitized specimens, not only those created by the ADBC program.


Information about ADBC

Anyone seeking information about ADBC, its grand challenges, or how to get involved in this funding stream should look on the NSF website for the solicitations:

For details about writing a proposal to the NSF ADBC program for digitization funding, see here

Annual/Final Reports to NSF

Each institution that received funding will need to submit their own report to NSF. The TCN Lead PI submits a report of their own activities AND the activities of the entire TCN. For more information, see the Guidelines for Annual Reporting Requirements.

"The Program expects the final report to be the same as the annual report for the last year of funding. As a result, it is expected that the format of previous annual reports will be followed. The lead PI (or his/her designee) collects all the reports from collaborators and prepares a high level picture of the accomplishments of the network. Each collaborating PI submits their individual report highlighting their own accomplishments as it relates to their part of the award and the personnel (students etc.) working with them. Collaborators attach the integrated report as a PDF. Because the integrated report focuses on high level network accomplishments, it is inappropriate for collaborators to refer to it in their reports (such as, see details in attachment) rather than explicitly stating their own accomplishments.”

TCN Quarterly Reports to iDigBio

Prior to each TCN Advisory Meeting, TCNs are asked to complete a quarterly progress report in the following areas:

  • Progress in Digitization Efforts
  • Best Practices, Standards, and Lessons Learned
  • Identified Gaps in Digitization Areas and Technology
  • Opportunities to Enhance Training Efforts
  • Collaborations with other TCNs, Institutions, and/or Organizations
  • Opportunities and Strategies for Sustainability
  • Education, Outreach, Diversity, & Inclusion (EODI) Activities
  • Information About Your Website and/or Portal Usage
  • Other Activities and/or Progress

The TCN Lead PI or Project Manager collects information from all collaborators and compiles them into one overall progress report for the TCN. The TCN Lead PI or Project Manager then submits the quarterly reports via an email to Cat Chapman. iDigBio maintains an archive of previously submitted reports is available on the TCN Advisory Committee (IAC) wiki page.

We have created a template for the reports that TCN Lead PIs or Project Managers are welcome to use. This link will prompt you to make a copy of the template document to your own Google Drive account, where you may fill it out with the required information before sending it to us. If you do not have a Google Drive account, or do not wish to use it, you may use this link to access the template for downloading to your PC (after accessing the link, click File, then Download, and choose your desired filetype, preferably .docx).

You may contact Cat Chapman for further information about report submission using her contact page.

TCN Report

TCNs/PENs At a Glance

Row Count Description Count
1 Known U.S. Collections 1,590
2 ADBC Funded Collections 925
3 ADBC Funded Institutions 317
4 ADBC Collections Providing Data 663
6 Total ADBC Specimen Records 65,264,004

Collaborators funded includes PENs
Table is manually entered based on the data at:

TCNs/PENs Digitization Progress

TCN Date Status #Collaborators funded #Funded datasets ingested +Dataset volunteers +Collaborators no data
Endless Forms 2018 - 2021 active 6
Pteridological Collections Consortium (PCC) 2018 - 2021 active 9
Capturing California's Flowers (CAP) 2018 - 2022 active 19
Cretaceous World 2016 - 2019 active 9 6 1
EPICC (includes 1 CSBR) 2015 - 2019 active 8 6 1
Fossil Insects (FIC) 2013 - 2017 NCE 9 5 2
Great Lakes Invasives (GLI) 2014 - 2017 retired 39 33 1 1
InvertEBase 2014 - 2018 active 9 6 6 1
InvertNet 2011 - 2015 retired 23 11
LepNet 2016 - 2020 active 27 34 4
Lichens & Bryophytes (LBCC) 2011 - 2015 retired 71 67 28
MaCC 2012 - 2015 retired 34 32 8 2
Macroalgae 2013 - 2017 NCE 50 33
MAM 2016 - 2019 active 12 7 1 1
MiCC 2015 - 2018 active 33 23 20 1
NEVP 2012 - 2016 retired 25 24 2 4
oVert (*) 2017 - 2021 active 51 2
Paleoniches 2012 - 2016 retired 8 7 1
SCAN 2012 - 2015 NCE 19 18 28 0
SERNEC 2014 - 2018 active 95 36 5 4
SoRo 2017 - 2021 active 19 10 3 1
Tri-trophic (TTD) 2011 - 2015 retired 29 29 3 1
VACS 2013 - 2017 NCE 7 6
TOTAL 613 393 112 20

(Updated ~monthly :: May, 2018)
NCE = NSF no cost extension

  • = we have ingested 44 datasets from oVert's TCN, but we are still working on the media protocol, so the ingested counts are not available yet

TCN List at a Glance

Below is a table of individual TCN project information. RDCNs are added below for completeness since they work closely with thematic networks. For more iDigBio TCN info, see the master map for which institutions are in the project:, and see each institution's map (links found below) for project details of the TCN. For a complete list of data publishers see:

Note: the number of anticipated collaborators, specimens and images to be digitized is approximate, and based on the text in the proposal.

TCN Date Contact with Email Digitization Methodology Software Interface to iDigBio Organisms # of Specimens/Images # of Collaborators
InvertNet (website) 2011 - 2015 Final Christopher Dietrich robotic scanning of vials, slides and drawers, crowd-sourcing of label data from images arthropods 56.1M / .89M 23 (1 PEN) (Map)
Tri-trophic (TTD)


2011 - 2015 Final Katja Seltmann Toby Schuh (insects), Rob Naczi (plants) imaging herbarium sheets with the Photo eBox Plus and direct transcription of insect labels into a database without imaging. Arthropod Easy Capture, Symbiota, several other institutional databases including Specify insects (Hemiptera, Hymenoptera) and vascular plants 1.2M (insects) 1.2M (plants) / 611,000 29 (Map)
Lichens & Bryophytes (LBCC)

(lichen website), (bryophyte website)

2011 - 2015 Final Corinna Gries, Tom Nash‎‎, Ed Gilbert label imaging, using OCR for data capture workflow Symbiota lichens & bryophytes 2.3M / 2.3M 71 (4 PENs) (Map)
New England Vascular Plants (NEVP)

(TCN website), (CNH website)

2012 - 2016 Final Patrick Sweeney robotic scanning apparatus for herbarium sheets, specimen-by-specimen label data capture Symbiota, EMu vascular plants 1.29M / 1.29M 25 (2 PENs) (Map)

(TCN website)

2012 - 2015 Final Bruce Lieberman specimen-by-specimen label data capture Specify fossils: arthropods, brachiopods, echinoderms, mollusks, cnidarians, vertebrates 930K / 4K 7 (3 PENs) (Map)
MacroFungi Collection Consortium (MaCC)

(TCN website),(mycoportal website)

2012 - 2017 Final Barbara Thiers label imaging, crowd-sourcing of label data Symbiota macrofungi 1.39M / 1.3M 34 (2 PENs) (Map)
Symbiota Collections of Arthropods (SCAN)

(TCN website), (website)

2012 - 2015 Neil Cobb Visionary Digital workflow, specimen-by-specimen label data capture, plus ~16K specimen image suites (~40K images) Symbiota ground dwelling arthropods .73M / 15,125 18 (5 PENs) (Map)
Fossil Insect Collaborative (FIC)


2013 - 2017 Talia Karim Imaging specimens using standard macrophotographic techniques including focus stacking, data capture via hand keystroke and voice recognition Specify, EMu and other (for home institutions) - developing the iDigPaleo Portal for our main interface. fossil insects 500k/200k 8 (2 PENs) (Map)
Vouchered Animal Communication Signals (VACS) 2013 - 2017 Michael Webster digitizing analog sound recordings, imaging specimens & labels birds, frogs, fish and insects 58,374 / 22,939 7 (Map)
Macroalgal Herbarium Consortium (MHC) (website) 2013 - 2017 Chris Neefus imaging herbarium sheets with the Photo eBox Plus Symbiota macroalgae 1.14M / 1.14M 50 (Map)
Great Lakes Invasives (website) 2014 - 2017 Final Ken Cameron imaging herbarium sheets and animal specimen lots with the Photo eBox Plus Symbiota fish, clams, snails, mussels, algae, plants >637K plants, >102K fish lots, >44K mollusk lots 41 (Map)
InvertEBase 2014 - 2018 Petra Sierwald development of various workflows: data capture from labels; data capture from label images; data capture via voice recognition and OCR Symbiota, Arctos invertebrates: insects, arachnids, mollusks >2M 7 (2 PENs) (Map)
The Key to the Cabinets (SERNEC - TCN) 2014 - 2018 Zack Murrell Symbiota plants >3M 93 (1 PEN) (Map)
Microfungi Collections Consortium (MiCC)

(TCN website),(mycoportal website)

2015 - 2018 Andrew Miller label imaging, creation of a voice data command center in Symbiota, crowd-sourcing of label data, batch georeferencing Symbiota microfungi >1.2M/1.3M 40 (Map)
Fossil Marine Invertebrates EPICC (website) 2015 - 2019 Charles Marshall specimen-by-specimen label data capture, imaging exemplar specimens and historic labels, collaborative georeferencing Specify, EMu, FileMaker, and other fossil marine invertebrates 1.6M/85k 8 (1 PEN) (Map)
Cretaceous World 2016 - 2019 Bruce Lieberman specimen-by-specimen label data capture Specify fossils: arthropods, brachiopods, echinoderms, mollusks, cnidarians, vertebrates 164K/1.6K 8 (Map)
LepNet 2016 - 2020 Neil Cobb specimen-by-specimen label data capture; LepSnap Symbiota insects: Lepidoptera 2M/214K 27 (Map)
The Mid-Atlantic Megalopolis MAM 2016 - 2019 Cynthia Skema imaging herbarium sheets, specimen-by-specimen label data capture Symbiota vascular plants 700K/700K 11 (1 PEN) (Map)
oVert: Open Exploration of Vertebrate Diversity in 3D 2017 - 2021 David Blackburn or Ed Stanley capturing 3D phenotypes using CT-scanning via MorphoSource vertebrates 18 (Map)
Using Herbarium Data to Document Plant Niches in the High Peaks and High Plains of the Southern Rockies - Past, Present, and Future (SoRo) 2017 - 2021 Erin Tripp Symbiota vascular plants 20 (Map)
Digitizing "Endless Forms": Facilitating Research on Imperiled Plants with Extreme Morphologies 2018 - 2021 Matthew Pace plants
The Pteridological Collections Consortium: An integrative Approach to Pteridophyte Diversity Over the Last 420 Million Years 2018 - 2021 Carl Rothfels Symbiota pteridophytes
Capturing California's Flowers: Using Digital Images to Investigate Phenological Change in a Biodiversity Hotspot 2018 - 2022 Jenn Yost Symbiota plants
Enhancing Access to Taxonomic and Biogeographical Data to Stem the Tide of Extinction of the Highly Imperiled Pacific Island Land Snails 2019 - 2023 Norine Yeung Symbiota mollusks
American Crossroads: Digitizing the Vascular Flora of the South-Central United States 2019 - 2023 Peter Fritsch Symbiota plants
Digitizing Collections to Trace Parasite-Host Associations and Predict the Spread of Vector-Borne Disease 2019 - 2022 Stephen Cameron Symbiota parasitic arthropods
Documenting Marine Biodiversity through Digitization of Invertebrate Collections (DigIn) 2020 - 2024 Regina Wetzer Symbiota marine invertebrates
Mobilizing Millions of Marine Mollusks of the Eastern Seaboard 2020 - 2024 Rudiger Bieler Symbiota marine mollusks
Building a Global Consortium of Bryophytes and Lichens: Keystones of Cryptobiotic Communities 2020 - 2024 Jessica Budke Symbiota bryophytes and lichens

RDCNs and others at a Glance

RDCN Contact with Email Methodology Software Organisms # of Participants
Unlocking the Fossil Cabinet: Improving Conservation and Accessibility of Invertebrate Paleontology Collections at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

(CSBR website)

Austin Hendy single site EMu fossil invertebrates 1


Dave Bloom aggregator / facilitator mammals, birds, fish, herps 63 institutions, 179 collections: mammals (46), birds (47), fish (26), herps (44), paleo (8), tissue (4), special (4) (as of 12Aug2014)
Consortium of California Herbaria (CCH)


TBA - used to be David Baxter aggregator / facilitator custom vascular plants 32
Fishnet2 Collaborative Georeferencing Hank Bart, Jr. georeferencing fish
Mississippi Herbaria Consortium (Magnolia grandiFLORA) Lucile McCook aggregator / facilitator Silver Biology, Specify plants 8
Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria


Ben Legler aggregator / facilitator plants 57
Texas Oklahoma Regional Consortia of Herbaria (TORCH)


Wayne Elisens-retired Bruce Hoagland aggregator / facilitator plants 9
Wisconsin Flora (WisFlora)


Ken Cameron aggregator / facilitator algae, fungi, lichens, bryophytes and vascular plants 26

TCN Social Media Resources

TCN Blogs

TCN Facebook

TCN Twitter

Other resources