Atrium, the Latest Breed of Technology for Bio-Research

July 22, 2006

The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) recently released Atrium, an online biodiversity information system that provides scientists, students, and the general public with access to biodiversity data, images, maps, and more for the Andes-Amazon region of southeastern Peru, and beyond.

Atrium facilitates the collection, organization, and sharing of organismal and ecological information generated by the biologists, ecologists, students, and local field assistants conducting studies in the region from the different ACA field sites: Los Amigos and Wayqechas Research Stations.

With a standard Web browser, viewers can log in to Atrium and search over 5,000 collections that compose the Peruvian plant specimen data and browse over more than 15,000 images. And they can compare plant species between different areas of the tropics, especially between Peru and the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica.

The development and design of Atrium was partially funded by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation under the initiative to increase knowledge of the AndesAmazon area and to develop new technologies to document and disseminate information about the species and ecosystems in the region.

In 2004, John Janovec, Ph.D., BRIT botanist and head of AABP; Amanda Neill, BRIT collections manager and co-director of AABP; and Mathias Tobler, doctoral student and co-director of AABP, began defining the types of data necessary for a biodiversity information system. Since the release of the initial version in August 2005, the team has added new features, including custom field guides, satellite imagery, bibliographic records, and live mapping of specimen locations.

Moreover, the team has developed a portable version of Atrium that can be taken into the field by researchers, allowing easy access to data and images without requiring an Internet connection. Many new components and datasets will be added during 2006-2007. Atrium can be seen online at:

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