In today’s Zootaxa, Jolley-Rogers et al propose a novel way to electronically tag insect collections:
A new, ultra-small, light-activated microtransponder (“p-Chip”) has been integrated into the heads of entomological pins to improve efficiency in collections management and research through radio frequency identification (RFID) of insect specimens. These specimens are typically small, fragile, numerous and especially difficult to track. Globally, the majority are not currently recorded in any database. The application of unique identifiers has previously proven time consuming and difficult. Permanent and integral to the specimen, each p-Chip transmits a unique serial number allowing tracking without contact and reducing the risk of damage to specimens and repetitive strain injuries (RSI) in curators. The p-Chips and the specimens they tag can be linked immediately to biodiversity web services and collections databases. Specimens can be rapidly assigned to groupings as they are sorted and their taxonomic identity refined; and accurately tracked through high throughput methods and analyses. Quite importantly, with the p-Chips, the profile of the pin head is unchanged, and there is no discernible tactile difference from standard entomological pins.