banner.jpg

The BRAHMS Project


Revealing the riches of data held in natural history collections

BRAHMS development started around 1990 with an initial focus on taxonomic research and herbarium management, hence the name 'Botanical Research And Herbarium Management System'.

Over the years, the system broadened its management capability with heavy investment in managing data for botanic gardens, seed banks and field surveys - and in particular, integrating data across collection types in larger institutions.

Fast forwarding to 2020, BRAHMS is now deployed globally with projects ranging in size from the taxonomic revisions of small genera to managing some of the world's largest herbaria, botanic gardens and seed banks. The largest single database with over 5 million museum specimens runs at the Naturalis Museum in the Netherlands. The country with the largest number of individual projects is Brazil.

Version 8 published in May 2019 is a comprehensive upgrade moving BRAHMS to new technology and extending its role to manage natural history collections more widely both for curation and research.

The project is based at the University of Oxford and is now managed by Oxford University Innovation (OUI).


A selection of projects, illustrating how BRAHMS is used for curation and research.

Project Details
The Flora of Namibia About 4000 seed plants are indigenous to Namibia and almost 15% are considered endemic to the country. There are about 164 families of higher plants and of these, 32 are represented by only one species. In contrast the most diverse families are those known to be among the largest families worldwide including the Poaceae, Asteraceae and Leguminosae. These data are assembled in BRAHMS and published as a comprensive flora and online resource with maps and images. Check out images for the Aizoaceae.

Zooming in to an image of Cheiridopsis caroli-schmidtii.

Conifers of the World A database of all conifer taxa with complete nomenclature and geo-referenced specimens published to BRAHMS online. Used as the basis for numerous publications including several revisions and monographs; A World Checklist And Bibliography of Conifers; The Handbook of the World's Conifers; and An Atlas of the World's Conifers - An Analysis of Their Distribution, Biogeography, Diversity and Conservation Status. View the natural distribution of the family Araucariaceae.

One of the recently added data analysis features is complete integration with ArcGIS allowing users to interact with maps to interpret and evaluate the distribution of taxa.

The National Museums of Kenya The East African Herbarium maintains the largest botanical collection in tropical Africa. Presently holding more than 700,000 plant specimens and accompanying field notes it acts as a major regional as well as national reference centre. Currently, NMK are imaging their herbarium specimens and publishing these online. Check out some of their images for the Annonaceae.

Several digitising stations have been set up in the herbarium, each with a Nikon D750, LED lighting and the appropriate hardware for translating data from the image labels into Rapid Data Entry tables.

Trinidad and Tobago The National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago (TRIN) currently houses more than 50,000 botanical specimens. Their objectives include activities to maintain and expand the flora collection for Trinidad and Tobago; provide an accurate plant identification service; promote interest in the local flora; and disseminate information about the local flora; develop its capabilities as a resource centre for botanical information.

A database for the National Herbarium and documenting the flora of Trinidad and Tobago with a national checklist of taxa.

Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum Oxford Botanic Garden, as well as being the first botanic garden in the UK (founded in 1621), at the UK’s oldest University, also undertakes research. Their focus is evolutionary and reproductive biology, and conservation linked to biodiversity hotspots around the world. With plant reproduction and evolution, they are exploring fundamental processes in plant reproduction and evolution using genetics and genomics, in close collaboration with scientists at the University of Oxford’s Plant Sciences Department and further afield. Working with botanists around the world, they are developing ex situ conservation plant collections of species from biodiversity hotspots – areas with high plant species richness. Their research collectively focuses on the Mediterranean Basin, Ethiopian and Japanese floristic regions.

Oxford Botanic Garden is a BRAHMS development partner

Oxford University Herbaria and related research programmes The historical development of BRAHMS as a herbarium management system is closely linked to the Oxford Unvesity Herbaria. More broadly, BRAHMS has evolved with the plant diversity research team at Oxford Plant Sciences with their work on taxonomy, phylogenetics, forest ecology, biodiversity and conservation. As well as contributing to a fundamental understanding of plant diversity, these research activities lead to widely used, practical outputs that help to measure, manage and conserve this diversity globally. BRAHMS is an integrated component of these research activities.
The National Herbarium of the Netherlands (NHN) The largest BRAHMS database with over 5 million collection entries. NHN originated as a cooperation of the 3 major herbaria of the Netherlands (L, U & WAG), and is now the botanical part of Naturalis Biodiversity Center. Check out a video showing database performance in a database with several specimen million records. In a database of this size, a query on Zingiberaceae specimens collected between 1800 and 1900 still results in over 80,000 records.
National Parks Board, Singapore The Singapore Botanic Gardens Herbarium houses a main collection of about 750,000 herbarium specimens, as well as a supporting spirit collection. The Herbarium collections mainly include materials from the Malesian region and adjacent areas with the most extensive collections from Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia dating from the 1880s. Out of these, about 8000 are type specimens. Published to BRAHMS online
SANBI The South African National Biodiversity Institute, bringing together species and collection data from across the country into a single database published using BRAHMS online to Southern African plant names and floristic details.
The Morton Arboretum Managing the Morton Arboretum garden and herbarium. The Morton Arboretum, Illinois, USA has been a co-developer of BRAHMS for living and preserved collection management. A sample map search online of their Malus collection in the garden.
The Ancient Oaks of England England is the hotspot for ancient oak trees in Europe with more ancient oaks than all other European countries combined. This BRAHMS database and website brings together data on the ancient and veteran native oak trees of England, their distribution, history and ecology. The history of oaks in England.

The Cathedral Oak in Savernake Forest, Wiltshire.

Red Butte Botanic Garden Red Butte is the main botanic garden in Utah with an impressive collection that includes many native plants. Check out a video mapping plants at Red Butte.
The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership The Millennium Seed Bank's global network, The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP), is the largest ex situ plant conservation programme in the world. BRAHMS is used to collate seed bank data from more than 100 countries from across the Seed Bank Partnership.
National Forestry Herbarium, New Zealand The National Forestry Herbarium (NZFRI) specialises in cultivated tree species associated with forestry and amenity planting, and includes extensive collections of eucalyptus and pine species. It also contains a wide range of New Zealand native and naturalised plants, and is the regional herbarium for the Bay of Plenty, East Cape and central North Island of New Zealand.

National Forestry Herbarium, New Zealand

An e-monograph of the Caricaceae This website is a taxonomic resource for the papaya family. It will help experts and enthusiasts identify a species, find its relatives and improve their understanding of this interesting family of flowering plants.
Trower Botanical Illustrations A project providing access to the general botanical watercolours, the bramble illustrations and Druce Illustrations by Charlotte Georgina Trower.
Oxford Plants 400 A fascinating set of species pages developed at Oxford Plant Sciences and Botanic Garden. Check out Coffee, Rice and Cinnamon.
L'Erbario di Ulisse Aldrovandi The collection by Ulisse Aldrovandi is one of the oldest survived to this day and, no doubt, one of the widest of the XVI Century. Aldrovandi probably begun his herbarium in 1551 and kept on working on it lifelong, gathering more than 5,000 specimens bound in 15 volumes. In 2004 the entire collection has been digitized and published on-line with free access giving the opportunity to researchers from all over the world to study this precious and unique collection.
RBG Kew UKOT Online Herbarium The RBG Kew UK Overseas Territiries (UKOT) Online Herbarium provides access to virtual herbaria for sixteen UKOT projects. In the first instance, these comprises digitized geo-referenced herbarium specimens from Kew's collection together with associated data, field images and key botanical literature.
PBI Solanum: A worldwide treatment The Solanaceae Source web site is one of the products of a five year project: Planetary Biodiversity Inventory (PBI) Solanum: A worldwide treatment. The aim of the project was to produce a worldwide taxonomic monograph of the species of the plant genus Solanum, organised by a robust phylogenetic framework. The project began in January 2004 and was just one of four inventories funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the first round of funding for the PBI Initiative.

Contact

BRAHMS project
Department of Plant Sciences
University of Oxford
South Parks Road
Oxford OX1 3RB
UK

Reception: +44 (0)1865-275000
BRAHMS: +44 (0)1865-275129
Technical queries: brahms@plants.ox.ac.uk
Licensing queries: contact Philippa Christoforou at Oxford University Innovation email: brahms@innovation.ox.ac.uk .