United States Geological Survey’s Aquatic Experimental Lab
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is a scientific agency of the U.S. government that investigates and reports about the health and status of ecosystems and about the effect of natural hazards on natural resources and the environment. As part of this project, a specialized department at the USGS is exploring aquatic macroinvertebrates throughout the country. An analysis of these aquatic specimens can provide considerable amounts of information about the health and condition of their surrounding ecosystem.
Ephemeroptera Heptageniidae Epeorus longimanus (Photo Credit: USGS)
For instance, if specific species only are able to survive in less polluted water, then it can be inferred that the existence of this species demonstrates low levels of pollution and that the waterway is indeed healthy. Yet, accurate observations can be made only when the specimens are properly identified and this approach requires expertise and training which can make the task very difficult.
A species is identified by using a dichotomous key, which presents two sets of criteria to the observer. If the first set of characteristics is observed in the specimen, then the observer is guided to the subsequent part of the dichotomous key to proceed with the identification process. However, if the specimen is found to have the second set of characteristics, then the observer is guided to a different part of the dichotomous key. At every step, the observer has to choose from two sets of characteristics so as to proceed to the following assessment. This procedure is performed again until a genus is established. In order to make a positive identification, the observer eventually compares his specimen against a physical reference specimen.
However, reference specimens tend to degrade over time and their removal from storage can also lead to wear and tear of the specimens. In addition, these specimens need expert resources to collect, detect, validate, and curate, which can make them relatively costly. Therefore, in order enhance the identification process, USGS researchers acquired new specimens and identified a way to preserve them.
Dytiscus head (Photo Credit: USGS)
Multiple Diptera (Photo Credit: USGS)
Solution: Imaging reference specimens
First, the USGS researchers captured the images of their existing stock of reference specimens for use during training of new analysts. The specimens were photographed using Lumenera’s INFINITY microscope cameras and ANALYZE software. The photographs acquired served as useful teaching tools and were displayed on a monitor or screen to show the students or to compare the specimens under evaluation.
The USGS staff realized that this strategy of employing images as reference specimens is successful, and thus advanced their project by imaging reference specimens for their research and specimen identification. With help from the C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity and the Colorado State University, new specimens were collected from all over the United States. This enabled preserving expensive reference specimens for research purposes as well as making them available for use to a wider range of organizations and researchers.
The insects are imaged by both compound and stereo microscopes ranging from 10x to 500x magnification. For this project, the USGS selected Lumenera’s high performance, research-grade INFINITY2-1RC and INFINITY3-3URC cameras to ensure high accuracy and image quality. The plug-and-play nature of the cameras together with their easy-to-use INFINITY ANALYZE software makes them very user-friendly.
Morgan Ford, a contractor for the project, explains:
Lumenera INFINITY cameras and INFINITY ANALYZE software provide an imaging solution for our lab that lets us easily capture high quality images for use in our research. Using multiple Lumenera cameras, we are able to effectively photograph several specimen types without having to grapple with connectivity issues and/or formatting concerns.”
Compound Microscope with INFINITY2-1RC (Photo Credit: USGS)
Imaging Specimens with the INFINITY2-1RC (Photo Credit: USGS)
The images are either collected as single images showing a small portion of the specimen which is in focus at one point of time, or as composite images acquired by joining together many images having varying depths of field. The option is dependent mostly on which of the two best displays the section of the specimen being analyzed under the dichotomous key.
At the time of this publication going to print, approximately 5000 images of roughly 400 different specimens have been collected by the USGS group. Believed to be the largest digital collection in existence, these high-quality digitized references of aquatic macroinvertebrates are available on the Internet for users to search and download.
Lumenera’s INFINITY cameras
Lumenera’s INFINITY cameras are popular for their high resolution and superior color reproduction. The INFINITY2-1R and INFINITY3-3UR cameras have been used for providing the necessary accuracy and the image quality required for imaging specimens to perform genus identification and geological research.
INFINITY2-1R product highlights
- USB 2.0 high-speed interface camera for easy installation on a computer
- High dynamic range of 64 dB
- Low-noise characteristic 1.4 MP CCD image sensor
- Selection of 8- and 14-bit pixel data modes
- 30 fps at full 1392 x 1040 resolution
- Full color sub-windowing enables rapid focus and scanning of samples
INFINITY3-3UR product highlights
- High-speed USB 3.0 interface for simplified connectivity and fastest image delivery
- High frame rate of 53 fps at full 1936 x 1456 resolution
- Useful for applications needing extreme sensitivity, optimal color reproduction, high speed, and increased resolution
- Selection of 8- and 14-bit pixel data modes
- Industry leading Sony EXview HAD II 2.8 MP CCD sensor
Lumenera Corporation, a division of Roper Industries, headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, is a leading developer and manufacturer of high performance digital cameras and custom imaging solutions. Lumenera cameras are used worldwide in a diverse range of industrial, scientific and security applications.
Lumenera solutions provide unique combinations of speed, resolution and sensitivity in order to satisfy the most demanding digital imaging requirements. Lumenera customers achieve the benefit of superior price to performance ratios and faster time to market with the company's commitment to high quality, cost effective product solutions.
Sponsored Content Policy: News-Medical.net publishes articles and related content that may be derived from sources where we have existing commercial relationships, provided such content adds value to the core editorial ethos of News-Medical.Net which is to educate and inform site visitors interested in medical research, science, medical devices and treatments.