AVH data contributes to research on crop wild relatives

In February 2011, the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia accessed data from Australia’s Virtual Herbarium (AVH) for use within the ‘Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change: Collecting, Protecting and Preparing Crop Wild Relatives’ project, which is led by the Global Crop Diversity Trust in partnership with the Millennium Seed Bank, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. More information on the project can be found here.

Between 2011 and 2013, CIAT and project partners have been collating, processing and using occurrence data from numerous sources around the world to model the distributions of the wild relatives of major crops and to identify gaps in their conservation, using methods based upon those described here. A full list of the data providers is presented here.

The researchers gathered and processed 5 million occurrence records, including over 100,000 herbarium records from AVH, and are nearing completion of ‘gap analysis’ work for the 29 crop genepools. Gap analyses for the wild relatives of an additional 60 important crops will be completed in 2013; the results of the analyses will be made freely available on the project website. The interactive map for displaying the gap analysis results will be launched mid-year.

In addition to the results, the full data set will also be made available for use by other researchers under the Creative Commons License (Non-commercial, Share-alike, 3.0 Unported).

As a service to the data providers of the project, the researchers returned occurrence data to the original providers, with feedback on suspected errors in taxonomic and geographical data. AVH data custodians have started checking through this data, and will update their records where additional data was provided or genuine errors were detected.

New release of AVH

Dear AVH user,

The Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH) is pleased to announce the release this week of a new version of Australia’s Virtual Herbarium (AVH). The new site was developed by, and forms part of, the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA).

The URL for the new site is avh.ala.org.au. We have redirected the old site to this address; please update your bookmarks accordingly.

This version of AVH contains several key improvements, including:

  • extended query functionality
  • improved taxon name resolution: search results for taxon names will include synonyms
  • improved mapping capability and better options for downloading maps
  • e-mail alerts when records of interest to you are added, updated or annotated
  • the ability for users to flag potential data issues for individual records.

Please note that no registration or login is needed to access or download data from AVH. All data, except for records of certain taxa that are sensitive for conservation or biosecurity reasons, are accessible to everyone. We do, however, encourage regular AVH users to register with the ALA, as registration makes some extra features available. See the Help page for more information on registration and the benefits it brings.

This latest version of AVH represents an important step in unlocking the wealth of botanical information held by Australian herbaria and making it more easily available to the public. We trust you will find it a great improvement on the previous version of AVH.

The new AVH will be officially launched later this year. In the meantime, the AVH and ALA teams are still adding content and working to fix some minor bugs. We encourage users to provide feedback on how the site could be improved via the ‘AVH feedback’ link at the bottom of each page, or at avh@ala.org.au. If you need help with using the site, please consult the Help and AVH data pages.

I would like to acknowledge the enormous amount of work that has gone into developing, testing and documenting this new version of AVH, both from members of the ALA development and management teams, and from members of CHAH’s Herbarium Information Systems Committee (HISCOM). I would particularly like to thank Dave Martin and Nick dos Remedios from the ALA, and Niels Klazenga, Ben Richardson, Alison Vaughan and Aaron Wilton from HISCOM for shouldering the bulk of the work and producing what I hope you agree is a brilliant new AVH.


Kevin Thiele
Chair, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria.