At least 37 species and varieties of diatoms from freshwater and brackish habitats were originally described and named from material collected in New Zealand. The rules of nomenclature state that names must be tied to the original specimens accessioned into herbaria so they can be viewed by other researchers. These “type specimens” are therefore extremely important historical objects, and are recognised as “protected objects” in New Zealand (as specified in Schedule 4, Protected Objects Act 1975). An international priority has developed to digitise information from type specimens to facilitate access and prevent damage to the originals.
Only a minority of diatom types from New Zealand were accessioned to New Zealand collections; the majority reside in European herbaria. This creates difficulties in accessing them for New Zealand researchers, and is contrary to the modern principle that types (or replicates known as isotypes) should be lodged in their country of origin. The digitisation undertaken here is a response to these issues.
We gratefully acknowledge our international collaborators for loans of type specimens: the Natural History Museum (BM), the Natural History Museum of Denmark (C), and the Herbarium Senckenbergianum Frankfurt (FR).
Lastly, we thank the following publishers for permission to reproduce descriptions from their publications: Koeltz Scientific Books and E. Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung. Some descriptions have been abridged to 200 words or less per paper to satisfy the copyright rules of Taylor and Francis.