Archiv für den Monat: Juni 2021

A drawer showcase: high-resolution images of historic insect collections

High-resolution images of insect drawers

High-resolution images of the insect drawers from natural history collections allow public visual access to the collection, which is normally reserved for visiting scientists. The images and accompanying data enable scientists to easily determine the extent and composition of entomological and other collections. In some cases, the labels provide information on the collecting circumstances, such as the location and date, and the high resolution of the photos makes it possible to examine differences between species and variation within species. This information enables scientists to take this data into account as early as the planning phase of projects. In addition, the images provide the foundation for the development of new research approaches in relation to image analysis and AI aided approaches, e.g. to obtain information on the species composition in certain regions and at certain times. It is foreseeable that future images archives of natural history collections will help establish new research approaches and fields of research. Due to the high level of personnel and financial expenditure, this data could only be obtained to a very limited extent so far. High-resolution images of insect boxes represent an efficient, fast, and inexpensive method to open up the enormous, but so far relatively little used information content of entomological collections.

The insect collection of E. Enslin

Front page Enslin’s “Tenthredinoidea Mitteleuropas” a comprehensive identification key to the Symphyta of Central Europe.

Eduard Enslin was a naturalist and ophthalmologist who, as an entomologist, made important contributions to the taxonomy and systematics of the Hymenoptera, especially the sawflies (Symphyta), and later also the bees and wasps (Aculeata), especially at the beginning and middle of the last century. His most important work is “Die Tenthredinoidea Mitteleuropas”, a comprehensive identification key to the sawflies and woodwasps of Central Europe that has long been THE standard on Symphyta and that is still used by entomologists today.

Enslin became known not only for his pioneering work on Symphyta, but also for his extraordinary versatility in the field of biology. His academic legacy includes four books and over 100 articles, mostly in scientific journals, with over 50 articles on the systematics, taxonomy, fauna and flora of Symphyta.

The importance of the estimated 8000 species collection lies not only in the abundance of species, but also in the fact that the insects were collected in places that today, for the most part, no longer exist. The collection location Enslin visited cover a wide spectrum, and in addition to Central European countries, he collected in the Mediterranean area, the Pannonian Basin and the Balkans. His favorite collecting spots were in the Allgäu, Valais and in South Tyrol.

The Enslin collection is deposited in the Zoologische Staatssammlung München , where it forms the basis for one of the world’s most important Hymenoptera collections, alongside the important collections by Förster, Hartig and Kriechbaumer.

A part of the collection is still in the original drawers. These drawers have been photographed using a high-resolution imaging system. The examples below show drawers of the Enslin collection that is hosted in the Zoologische Staatssammlung München. Each thumbnail images links to zoomable high-resolution version of each drawer image. For more images from drawers of the Enslin collection see the pages of the Hymenoptera section of the ZSM.

Camera system

Phase One XF IQ4 150MP with Schneider-Kreuznach 120 mm LS f/4.0 Macro lens.

The photos of the insect drawers were taken with a Phase One XF with IQ4-back. The medium format sensor with 150 million pixels delivers, due to its resolution, dynamic range and richness of detail, an image quality that was previously only achievable with complex stitching technology. In addition, the camera offers a stacking function to overcome the low depth-of-field in close-up photography. To the camera body, a Schneider-Kreuznach 120 mm LS f / 4.0 macro lens is attached for maximum image quality.

The full set of high-resolution images of the Enslin collection can be viewed on the collection pages of the ZSM Hymenoptera Section.