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Data from: Micro-computed tomography: introducing new dimensions to taxonomy

Cite this dataset

Faulwetter, Sarah et al. (2013). Data from: Micro-computed tomography: introducing new dimensions to taxonomy [Dataset]. Dryad.


Continuous improvements in the resolution of three-dimensional imaging have lead to an increased application of these techniques in conventional taxonomic research in recent years. Coupled with an ever increasing research effort in cybertaxonomy, three-dimensional imaging could give a boost to the development of virtual specimen collections, allowing rapid and simultaneous access to accurate virtual representations of type material. This paper explores the potential of micro-computed tomography, a non-destructive three-dimensional imaging technique based on X-ray energies, for supporting research in systematics and taxonomy. The subsequent use of these data as virtual type material, so-called “cybertypes”, and the creation of virtual collections lie at the core of this potential. Sample preparation, image acquisition, data processing and presentation of results are demonstrated using polychaetes (bristle worms), a representative taxon of macro-invertebrates, as a study object. Effects of the technique on the morphological, anatomical and molecular identity of the specimens are investigated. The paper evaluates the results and discusses the potential and the limitations of the technique for creating cybertypes. It also discusses the challenges that the community might face to establish virtual collections. Potential future applications of three-dimensional information in taxonomic research are outlined, including an outlook to new ways of producing, disseminating and publishing taxonomic information.

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