The Collections Unit is primarily responsible for the sourcing, digitization, and archiving of samples at the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics. This includes field collection, sample preparation, and long term storage of all specimens destined for genomic analysis at the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding. Field work is carried out with the BIObus – a mobile laboratory optimized for field collecting expeditions – and has been deployed every year since 2008 to survey arthropod biodiversity across North America. The over 1M specimens collected each year, as well as material sourced from museums and collaborators, are prepared for barcode analysis through databasing, sorting, and tissue sampling, and in the case of unique species – high resolution imaging. At its highest capacity in 2015, Collections prepared nearly 900K specimens for DNA barcoding and imaged over 60K.
Following sample preparation, each specimen is permanently vouchered in its natural history archive. This globally unique collection of over 2.8M digitized animal specimens with 500K imaged uses the Barcode of Life Data Systems to associate each record with its sequence data, collection information, and images, facilitating rapid access to both the specimen and its information. This ease of use allows the Unit to frequently provide loans to researchers engaged elsewhere (50K specimens in 453 separate loans for taxonomic identification), but is also critical to those who wish to visit and work in the dedicated workspace of the collection. In addition to these primary roles, the Collections Unit also manages several large research projects at CBG, including the Global Malaise Trap and Canadian National Park Malaise Trap Programs, and offers biomonitoring and digitization services.
The Collections Unit will be involved in the Food From Thought initiative by developing a real-time agricultural monitoring and reporting protocol starting at a local scale. For Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation the Collections Unit will be presenting 150 posts about Canada’s biodiversity through their social media portals biobus.ca, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.