New Collections


How to get a new collection started in Arctos

New collections should read about Joining Arctos first, and complete the Arctos Participation Initial Questionnaire.

Once a collection is ready to migrate their data to Arctos, we will help with this process. The first step is to create the new collection in the database, which involves filling out a web form that we will use to add the following information about the collection into Arctos. The same information will be used to create metadata for publishing the collection’s data to VertNet, Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), Integrated Digitized Biocollections (iDigBio), and other external portals.

Required fields are in bold:

  • Institution Acronym. Standardized across Arctos Institutions.
    • Example: UAM
  • Collection Code. Pick one (for each collection) from Collection Code is really “collection type” and primarily drives dynamic data – eg,
    • Example: Mamm
  • A collection Description. Keep it under 4,000 characters.
  • Collection – Standardized across Arctos Institutions. For new collection types, copy the format of the “outgroup” values in the “pick collection” list on SpecimenSearch. (E.g., “Bird specimens.”)
  • Institution – Standardized across Arctos Institutions. For new institutions, copy the format of the “header” values in the “pick collection” list on SpecimenSearch. (E.g., “Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates (CUMV).”)
  • Web Link – http(s) link to something interesting about the collection
  • Web Link text- clicky-text associated with the link to the collection
  •  Loan Policy URL – http-link to something about the collection’s loan policy (preferably including contact information)
  •  GUID Prefix – thing that will go in front of all catalog numbers in Arctos “GUID URLs.” Traditionally institution_acronym + collection_cde, but it doesn’t have to be. This is exceptionally difficult to change once used – choose wisely! (And see “GenBank” below.)
  • License – pick one from (or have yours added)
  •  Preferred Taxonomy Source – choose one from
  • Citation – some vertnet thing??
  •  Catalog Number Format – one of (integer, prefix-integer-suffix, string) – please consider reconsidering if anything except “integer” looks like a good idea.
  • At least one Admin-ready Arctos username (and accompanying Agent information – minimally, Preferred Name) to act as administrative contact for the collection.

That information should be sufficient to allow us to create collections and set someone up to manage them. That person can then create other users, and edit some of the above information. In addition to the basic setup, the following is recommended:

Now what?

Create collection contacts (under Manage Collection)  to receive annotations and notifications. Make sure that all collection contacts have a valid email address in their Agent record (NOT user profile).

Join the group. Go to!forum/Arctos and submit a join request to receive code updates and participate in discussions about Arctos development, direction, data, usability, and more.

Register with GenBank. Doing so will make your guid_prefix unique within GenBank, which will allow properly-cited specimens to link to records in Arctos, and will help GenBank reject ambiguous citations. GenBank is a first-come-first-served system, and in the case of conflicts (e.g., your institution acronym has been claimed by someone else) you may wish to consider a different guid_prefix. This is NOT necessary, but may help prevent future confusion. Use the “contact” link in the Arctos footer if you need GenBank contact info.

Share data in DarwinCore format. Make sure you can find your data in Use the Contact link in Arctos footers if you can’t. Once your data are there, work with VertNet, GBIF, iDigBio, etc. to share data with IPT portals.

Register with GRBio. We’re not sure why, but why not!

Collections may customize Arctos by providing a 116x60px transparent-background header image, and/or collection-specific CSS file. Use the Contact link in the Arctos footer or experiment in TEST.


By default, all collections are created as “public portals” with an access point of{guid prefix, in lowercase, colon replaced by underbar}. Visitors (except operators, who are strictly tied to the VPD) to that URL see only your specimens, and use your header and CSS. Let us know if you do not want the portal public. (Users can still access unencumbered specimens via GUID.)

In addition to collection-specific portals, portals to arbitrary combinations of collections are possible. provides access to both the UAM Insect Collection and the UAM Insect Observations collection, and provides access to all MVZ collections (including observations). Let us know if you want any cross-collection Portals created.