Project Chrysomel'ID

Introduction

Since 2016, BINCO has been collaborating with the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS)

to assist in the digitization of their collections. Specifically, we’ve started digitizing the collection of the leaf beetles (Coleoptera – Chrysomelidae), which is an extremely interesting and diverse family of beetles due to their diverse morphology, strong host-plant relationships and economic importance. The collection currently consists of a total of which are being digitized systematically in several related projects. BINCO has developed its own method to ensure digitization cost and time is reduced. This wouldn’t be possible without the support from our driven volunteers.

Are you interested in working with us on our digitization project? Don’t hesitate to send a message to martijnvanroie@hotmail.com.

DIGI 1: Development of a method for digitization

Martijn Van Roie, Jan Mertens, Jonas Merckx, Wouter Dekoninck

A method for digitization was developed to meet two main requirements: low cost and quick processing. These aims were met by using a compact camera with focus stacking functionality in combination with a simple light box. We compared our method to that of the professional RBINS digitization setup by testing photo quality, cost and processing time. Results showed our method is a good alternative to the expensive museum setup and achieved similar results, although important specimens such as type specimens would still benefit from being photographed with a professional setup. At the moment, two of our camera setups are operational in the RBINS.

The results were presented at a symposium organized by the Belgian Entomological Society in November 2017. The presentation slides are available here.

Publication: Mertens J.E.J., Van Roie M., Merckx J., Dekoninck W. 2017. The use of low cost compact cameras with focus stacking functionality in entomological digitization projects. Zookeys 712: 141–154.

DIGI 2: Digitization Calligrapha

Martijn Van Roie, Jonas Merckx, Jesús Gomèz-Zurita, Wouter Dekoninck

A pilot study was set up to test our digitization method by digitizing one specific genus: Calligrapha (Coleoptera – Chrysomelidae). Most species within this genus can be identified by the markings on their elytra, which made it possible for Dr. Gomèz-Zurita to identify all specimens based on photographic material alone. This allowed for more efficient and correct sorting of the museum specimens and showed how our method could also improve collaboration with experts abroad by reducing costs and the ability to plan taxonomic research more.

Publication

Merckx J., Van Roie M., Gomèz-Zurita J., Dekoninck W. From theory to practice: using a photographic inventory of museum collections to facilitate species identifications. – in prep

DIGI 3: Chrysomelidae of El Salvador

Frederik De Wint, Ayse Gungor, Charlotte Huyghe, Martijn Van Roie, Wouter Dekoninck, Lukáš Sekerka

The RBINS collection includes leaf beetle specimens from El Salvador which were identified by J. Bechyné. As an expert in entomology, Bechyné studied numerous (Neotropical) Chrysomelidae between 1942 and 1978. This valuable reference collection will help compile a preliminary checklist of El Salvador’s Chrysomelidae, a poorly known species group in the region.

This project is currently ongoing, so more information will be coming soon.