Sofie De Smedt's research while affiliated with Meise Botanic Garden and other places

Publications (31)

Poster
Homblé collected plants in Guangxi (China) before becoming famous as one of the first collectors in Katanga (DR Congo). His Chinese collection erroneously was inserted in the African herbarium in BR. As a result, four African species were described from Chinese material. After a century, their genuine identity is now elucidated, e.g. Caesalpinia ho...
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The original set of botanical collections of the agronomist H.A. Homblé is conserved in the herbarium BR. Homblé was one of the first collectors (1911–1913) for the flora of Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many Homblé specimens were described as taxonomic novelties; 107 tropical African plant species are named after him. Before his colon...
Article
We compare different approaches to transcribing natural history data and summarise the advantages and disadvantages of each approach using six case studies from four different natural history collections. We summarise the main cost considerations when planning a transcription project and discuss the limitations we current have in understanding the...
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Digitisation of natural history collections has evolved from creating databases for the recording of specimens’ catalogue and label data to include digital images of specimens. This has been driven by several important factors, such as a need to increase global accessibility to specimens and to preserve the original specimens by limiting their manu...
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When researchers and managers are asked to rank the issues that prevent adequate control of invasive species, lack of public awareness is at the top of the list (Dehnen‐Schmutz et al. 2018). It is therefore imperative to raise the general public's awareness of the potential risks of introducing alien species into the wild. Green Pioneers, a citizen...
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The Herbarium of Meise Botanic Garden is in the top 15 herbaria worldwide. The collection comprises some four million specimens, which are important for scientific research. Digitisation of specimens includes imaging, transcription of label information, linking data and making the results publicly accessible online. In addition to facilitating rese...
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Herbarium specimens hold a wealth of data about plants; where they come from, where they were collected and by whom. Once digitized, these data can be searched, mapped and compared. However, the information on specimens is often handwritten and even the best software systems cannot read it. This is where we get real value from citizen involvement....
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Mass digitization is a large undertaking for a collection. It is disruptive of routine and can challenge long-held practises. Having been through the procedure and survived, we feel we have a lot of experience to share with other institutions who are considering taking on this challenge. The changes that digitization has made to our institution are...
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The precious historical collection of fibres in Meise Botanic Garden, with over 500 specimens in old hand-blown glass jars, was rehabilitated in 2017. Most of the specimens date back to the second half of the 19th century, a period of technological revolution. The rehabilitation retraces the industrious search for every possible raw material provid...
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The collections of Meise Botanic Garden comprise extensive and varied documentation on the genus Rosa . The library collection contains valuable and often rare 19th century publications about the genus Rosa , frequently with annotations by François Crépin. In addition to this, the archives hold the unpublished manuscripts and thousands of letters f...
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The botanicalcollections.be website (http://www.botanicalcollections.be) is the culmination of the three year Digitale Ontsluiting Erfgoedcollecties (DOE!) project. Over this period we have digitally imaged 1.2 million African and Belgian herbarium specimens and much of their label data. All these data are freely available on our new virtual herbar...
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Globally there are a number of citizen science portals to support digitisation of biodiversity collections. Digitisation not only involves imaging of the specimen itself, but also includes the digital transcription of label and ledger data, georeferencing and linking to other digital resources. Making use of the skills and enthusiasm of volunteers...
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Many, if not most, countries have several official or widely used languages. And most, if not all, of these countries have herbaria. Furthermore, specimens have been exchanged between herbaria from many countries, so herbaria are often polylingual collections. It is therefore useful to have label transcription systems that can attract users profici...
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There are many ways to capture data from herbarium specimen labels. Here we compare the results of in-house verses out-sourced data transcription with the aim of evaluating the pros and cons of each approach and guiding future projects that want to do the same. In 2014 Meise Botanic Garden (BR) embarked on a mass digitization project. We digitally...
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Specimen labels are written in numerous languages and accurate interpretation requires local knowledge of place names, vernacular names and people’s names. In many countries more than one language is in common usage. Belgium, for example, has three official languages. Crowdsourcing has helped many collections digitize their labels and generates use...
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The digitization of herbaria and their online access will greatly facilitate access to plant collections around the world. This will improve the efficiency of taxonomy and help reduce inequalities between scientists. The Botanic Garden Meise, Belgium, is currently digitizing 1.2 million specimens including label data. In this paper we describe the...
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A supplement list to the “Catalogue of Brazilian plants collected by Prince Maximilian of Wied” is supplied, with additions of additional specimens and with corrections and updates of the correct names. This supplement is presented as an electronic appendix to this essay, keeping the original format of the Catalogue, as well as the original numbers...
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In volume V of Herbarium Pedemontanum, Luigi Colla cited 21 species based on Brazilian specimens distributed by Carl Martius in 1827. Of them, 18 were treated as new species. The original material examined by Colla (now held at TO) was found and compared with duplicates held elsewhere. Material was located for all but two of the taxa described by C...
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In three dissertations entitled Plantarum Brasiliensium and presided by Carl Peter Thunberg, ten new species were treated in each of three parts by Johan Immanuel Billberg, Carl Gustav Ahlberg, and Carl Otto Holm, respectively, from collections made by Georg Wilhelm Freyreiss in his travel to Minas Gerais in 1814–1815. Eight of these species are cu...
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In volume IV of Herbarium Pedemontanum, Luigi Colla cited 27 species based on Brazilian specimens distributed by Carl Martius in 1827. Of them, 22 were treated as new species. The original material examined by Colla (now held at TO) was found and compared with duplicates held elsewhere. Material was located for all but six of the taxa described by...
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The present study concerns Brazilian specimens that Carl Martius sent to Luigi Colla in 1827 and from which Colla described 31 new species in volume II of Herbarium Pedemontanum in 1834. The original material examined by Colla (now held at TO) was found and compared with duplicates held elsewhere. Material was located at TO for all but six of the t...
Article
The first catalogue of plants collected in Brazil by Prince Maximilian of Wied is presented. It was compiled from data currently available in literature, herbarium databases, and from searches for specimens in herbaria B, BR, FR, G, GOET, GZU, LD, M, MEL, TO, W, and in the private collection of Wied (Herbarium Wied) in Neuwied, Germany. The catalog...

Citations

... A few of these are material errors, including specimens collected in neighbouring countries (Burundi, Rwanda). Due to specimen mislabelling, several species have long been included in the ora of D.R. Congo while they were in fact collected in China (Robbrecht et al. 2021). Specimens in collection allowed us to detect several identi cation errors and wrong geolocalisation ( Supplementary Information S4). ...
... The authors used the Tesseract version 4, and an improvement in the performance of the OCR system was noticed when presented with only a portion of the image containing text rather than the whole herbarium image. Despite numerous advancements in the OCR system, the adaptation of the existing OCR system to completely automate the data capturing or data entry from digitized herbarium specimens is relatively low (Walton et al., 2020a). Most of the existing studies have relied on manual entry or public participation for the digitization process, although these could be more costly when the number of specimens increases (Ellwood et al., 2015). ...
... Digitization of fragile specimens, such as those of herbarium, is both an expensive and time-consuming task. A typical digitization workflow involves several steps, including image capturing, information extraction, storage, etc. Different standards and guidelines have been proposed to ensure the usability of the produced images on a large pool of applications with a possible unlimited life span (de la Hidalga et al., 2020). Several studies have applied image processing and CV techniques to improve and automate the digitization process. ...
... In 2015, the mass digitisation project "DOE!" (Digitale Ontsluiting Erfgoedcollecties -Digital Access to Cultural Heritage Collections) was funded by the Flemish Government and this allowed the digitisation of all the herbarium sheets of the African herbarium to be completed by the end of 2018. The Tervuren Xylarium Wood database was recently updated and completed with information from historical archives, thereby creating an optimised database which could be compared to the BR herbarium metadata maintained in BG-Base (Engledow et al. 2018). ...
... The Finnish Museum of Natural History (Tabelberg et al. 2012) is running mass digitisation programmes for their entire collections. Furthermore, major herbaria around the world -such as Harvard University (A, GH, NEBC), the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh (E), the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K), the French Muséum national d'histoire naturelle vascular plant herbarium (P, Le Bras et al. 2017) and the Meise Botanic Garden (BR, De Smedt et al. 2018) -have also conducted digitisation. China (the Chinese Virtual herbarium [http://www.cvh.ac.cn/]) and the United States (Integrated Digitized Biocollections [iDigBio]; https://www.idigbio.org/) ...
... A pilot study on the Crepin's herbaria suggests that a substantial number of samples could be processed for DNA extractions and would lead sufficient amount of quality DNA molecules for amplifications of nrITS and plastid loci (Stoffelen et al., 2018). Given the ever-growing accuracy of DNA technologies, these results are promising for future applications of Next-Generation Sequencing techniques on such material. ...
... They might, at the same time, georeference specimens where coordinates are not already provided on the specimen label. Volunteers have often been recruited to help with this process and, in some cases transcription has been outsourced to companies specializing in document transcription (Engledow et al. 2018;Ellwood et al. 2018). ...
... During the last decade, research on the flora of D.R. Congo has received strong impetus under leadership of Meise Botanic Garden (Belgium), with important progress in the production of the Flore d'Afrique centrale (Sosef 2016). At the same time, digitisation of the rich plant collections from D.R. Congo in BR has made a huge number of materials easily available and searchable through a user-friendly portal (Vissers et al. 2017). Digitisation of Congolese collections in BR is now almost complete, with 490.000 images available online. ...
... In July 1815, Maximilian Alexander Philipp (1782-1867), Prince of Wied, arrived in Rio de Janeiro and decided to accompany Sellow and Freyreiss in their voyage, under the pseudonym of Major [Baron] von Braunsberg in order to maintain anonymity (Stresemann, 1948;Papavero, 1971;Krüger, 1999;Moraes, 2009;Glaubrecht, 2017). Detailed information about the itineraries undertaken by Wied, Freyreiss, and Sellow in that expedition can be found in Wied-Neuwied (1820, 1821, Bokermann (1957), Moraes (2009Moraes ( , 2011, and Moraes & al. ( , 2016. ...
... Information about Acalypha species from Brazil is also found in several regional or thematic floras, and other taxonomic works, such as Colla (1836), Glaziou (1913), Lingelsheim (1912), , Matiko Sano et al. (2008), Mendoça et al. (2008), , , Alves (2009, 2010), João et al. (2011), Secco et al. (2012), Moraes (2013), Duarte et al. (2013), Moro et al. (2014), Hassemer et al. (2015), Schwirkowski (2015), and Zuloaga et al. (2019). Other studies focused on Acalypha from Brazil are those by Sousa et al. (2017), featuring a review of the genus for the São Paulo state; Sousa (2018) reviewing Acalypha species from the Atlantic Forest domain; and Maciel-Júnior et al. (2020) updating information on A. inselbergensis. ...