Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Join the crowd: Digitize biodiversity research specimens

Date:
February 26, 2014
Source:
Florida State University
Summary:
A crowdsourcing project aims to enable transcription of specimen labels and ledgers from the world's 3 billion biodiversity research specimens.

In the 10 years Austin Mast has been director of Florida State University's herbarium, his staff has digitized about 76,000 of the university's 210,000 plant specimens.

Related Articles


Using crowdsourcing, that same amount of digitization was accomplished in 10 days.

"Making it fun and easy and putting the task online is the only way we are going to produce the data we need for urgent research on biotic responses to climate change, extinctions and invasive species," Mast said. "The more people we can engage, the faster we can build a high resolution baseline for understanding current diversity and projecting future change."

Becoming a part of that engaged group is simple. Visit the website Notes from Nature, a crowdsourcing project that aims to enable transcription of specimen labels and ledgers from the world's 3 billion biodiversity research specimens.

Currently featured on the site are 21,000 specimen images from Florida State's Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium and Valdosta State University's Herbarium.

Mast, an associate professor in Florida State's Department of Biological Science, also sits on Notes from Nature's steering committee. Digitizing specimens is an ongoing effort, he noted.

"Of the United States' 1 billion specimens, about 10 percent are digitized -- that's a huge amount of data stuck in cabinets," Mast said.

These specimens are stored in natural history museums, universities and other safe places, available to the larger research community only when they visit the collections or request short-term loans of specimens and thus not living up to their full potential as valuable data.

The crowd -- anyone with a computer, Internet connection and an interest in transcribing -- can visit Notes from Nature and learn about diverse plants, many growing in their own backyards.

"The panhandle of Florida is a biotic hotspot, and our specimens document that diversity. We need that data to understand diversity in the national forest, our state, county and city parks, the wildlife refuge, and everywhere else in the region," Mast said.

Mast's drive also stems from his leadership of the public participation working group of iDigBio, the National Science Foundation's National Resource for Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections.

iDigBio, based at Florida State and University of Florida, is facilitating digitization, data mobilization, specimen-based research, education and outreach at more than 150 institutions in the United States. These represent every state in the nation and two U.S. territories.

There are more than 4,800 users transcribing specimens on Notes from Nature. Several other types of specimens are featured in addition to plants. For example, Calbug is an effort to digitize terrestrial arthropod-specimen records with a focus on California.

A great number of people do between one and five transcriptions, Mast said. Others contribute hundreds. The average time it takes to complete transcription of one specimen is about 3 minutes.

As for the accuracy of the crowd?

"It's good," Mast said. "Error rates are surprisingly close to what we get with our in-house technicians."

Mast encourages both individuals and groups to get involved in transcribing specimens.

"Public engagement in science has got to be a growth area for the scientific community," he said. "A lot of our decisions could be smarter with this scale of data, and it opens the lab door a bit more to the public, leading to a deeper understanding of the process."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Florida State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Florida State University. "Join the crowd: Digitize biodiversity research specimens." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226132750.htm>.
Florida State University. (2014, February 26). Join the crowd: Digitize biodiversity research specimens. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226132750.htm
Florida State University. "Join the crowd: Digitize biodiversity research specimens." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226132750.htm (accessed March 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, March 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Solar Impulse Departs Myanmar for China

Solar Impulse Departs Myanmar for China

AFP (Mar. 30, 2015) Solar Impulse 2 takes off from Myanmar&apos;s second biggest city of Mandalay and heads for China&apos;s Chongqing, the fifth flight of a landmark journey to circumnavigate the globe powered solely by the sun. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

Newsy (Mar. 29, 2015) A 508-million-year-old arthropod that swam in the Cambrian seas is thought to share a common ancestor with spiders and scorpions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

AFP (Mar. 29, 2015) Vietnam&apos;s drive to become the world&apos;s leading rice exporter is pushing farmers in the fertile Mekong Delta to the brink, say experts, with mounting costs to the environment. Duration: 02:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prince Charles Touts Importance of 'Earth Hour'

Prince Charles Touts Importance of 'Earth Hour'

AP (Mar. 28, 2015) People across Asia gathered to watch as the lights in their cities went out as part of Earth Hour 2015, an environmental awareness campaign that Prince Charles called a reminder "that together we have the power to change things." (March 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins