Transcribing Canada’s Natural History Data

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada houses several of Canada’s national biological collections, including insects, plants, fungi, bacteria and nematodes. These biodiversity repositories help scientists explore problems in agriculture, biological control and pest management, study biodiversity and genetics and help inform policy makers working to protect Canada’s natural resources.

The largest two collections are the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes (CNC) and the National Collection of Vascular Plants (DAO), both in Ottawa, Canada. The CNC contains around 17 million specimens, while the DAO contains 1.5 million dried vascular plant specimens.

Butterflies specimens in the CNC.

Our summer students have helped us capture over 1.3 million images over the past five years. With your help, we can turn these images into digital data that will then be put online for researchers from all over the world to study.

 CNC Summer Students digitizing specimen label data.

The DAO launched their Notes from Nature expeditions starting in April 2022 and have digitized poplars, willows and various plant species. The CNC is now launching our first expedition to digitize some of the Bristle flies (Tachinidae) of the CNC, with several more expeditions in the works. All of our active expeditions can be found in the project: Digitizing Biological Collections in Canada.

Join us in exploring Canada’s biodiversity on Notes from Nature!

A bristle fly of the family Tachinidae.

— Michelle Locke, Senior Entomology Collection Technician at the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes.


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