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Released on July 31, 2012

One of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum's (RSM) newest staff members, Curator of Invertebrate Zoology Dr. Cory Sheffield, has been taking ultra-high-quality pictures using the RSM's new digital imaging system. Sheffield, who is a world authority on Canadian bee species, is using the system, the most advanced of its kind in Canada, to study bees and other invertebrates.

Dr. Sheffield hopes to determine how some of Saskatchewan's 200 native species of bees can be best managed to help pollinate Saskatchewan's crops.

"Many bee species show promise as managed pollinators, but researchers must first be able to identify the species in order to better understand them," Dr. Sheffield said.

The digital imaging system allows Sheffield to study clear, highly-detailed images of different bee species, which has the potential to further our knowledge in this area.

This system will deliver pictures displaying the subtle details that make a species unique and identifiable.

"On behalf of the Government of Saskatchewan and the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport, I'm happy to welcome Dr. Cory Sheffield to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum," Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Kevin Doherty said. "Dr. Sheffield has studied bees across Canada and has even discovered new species. Wild bee pollination could be an environmentally-friendly and cost-efficient way to enhance Saskatchewan's agricultural crops. This could help Saskatchewan continue to be a leader in world food security."

"With this machine, the RSM will set a new quality standard for research-based digital imaging," Dr. Sheffield said. "I have used these types of digital imaging systems for my taxonomic research before, but this one is easily the most advanced in terms of image quality and lighting flexibility. I'm excited to further my research using it."

There are only three such systems in Canada, including the one located at the RSM. Older versions are housed at the University of Guelph (Ontario) and York University (Ontario). Before starting at the RSM, Sheffield completed his PhD at the University of Guelph and then worked as a research associate with York University, which is how he gained experience working with these digital imaging systems.

A large part of his job involves identifying species. In the past, he did this based on descriptions of the species which used only words or images (mostly drawings) that didn't describe the species accurately because appropriate imaging systems either weren't available or didn't produce quality images. Accurate, detailed images published as part of Dr. Sheffield's scientific articles increase the quality of his research.

The RSM's new imaging system ensures Dr. Sheffield has the capacity to perform the most accurate taxonomic research possible. The camera is mounted on a custom-built motorized tower that gives users the ability to move the camera up and down in very precise increments. By controlling the precise position of the camera, users can create crisp, clear images.

Researchers can adjust the camera's lens position with a computer to create a specific focal point, so images are focused exactly as users desire. The system can also produce stacked images, which are created by merging multiple photographs together using a software program to create a single, high-resolution image that is nearly three-dimensional.

Each component of the system is upgradeable, so it will be useful to the RSM for decades.

For further information on these digital imaging systems, please visit


For more information, contact:

Jennifer Johnson
Parks, Culture and Sport
Phone: 306-787-0619
Cell: 306-529-5805

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