Mobilize hundreds of years of biodiversity information with WeDigBio!

By: Dr. Libby Ellwood

Each year, millions of people organisation to healthy story museums to see examples of plants, animals, gemstones and some-more from places around the world. But what those visitors *don’t* get to see are the large additional specimens behind the scenes.

These citation collections, housed at museums, universities, and other institutions, are an useful apparatus for bargain biodiversity around the universe over prolonged spans of time. Yet billions of these specimens distortion tucked delicately divided in cabinets and shelves, mostly untouched to all but the few researchers with the means to perspective these collections in person. This creates the valuable information contained in and on those specimens difficult to hunt for, compromising their utility in investigate and education. 

Oxyscelio longiventris. Credit: Norman Johnson, http://specimage.osu.edu/getImageInfo.html ?image_id=13970

Thankfully, global efforts to technology specimens are making biodiversity information permitted to anyone with an Internet connection. And that’s where you come in! Citizen scientists can help biodiversity scientists and collections managers by transcribing citation information, thereby contributing to the flourishing databases of permitted biodiversity data.

One such bid is WeDigBio, Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections, an annual global eventuality that involves citizen scientists in transcribing information from specimens in healthy story collections.

Many investigate projects have used specimens to study all from meridian change to invasive species, and illness widespread to phenology. Much of this work has been finished with the specimens themselves, as against to a digital record. However, when digital citation information is available, researchers can extend their work deeper in time, opposite broader geographies, and thorough of some-more taxa; all with a discerning online hunt and but the additional costs compared with roving to collections in person.

An herbarium (plant) citation tag and how the information is interpreted to fit several fields. Credit: https://transcription.si.edu/instructions-botany

While certain digitization tasks, such as citation imaging, aren’t gainful to online assistance, tasks such as transcribing tag information are ideal for the virtual crowd. Transcription involves reading a label, deciphering the text, and typing the information into specified fields on a digital height (see picture on left). Several online collection have been grown to capacitate this routine and thousands of citizen scientists have finished labels with these tools!

In 2015, a organisation of people in the citation digitization village suspicion it would be fun to classify an eventuality where citizen scientists around the universe could finish online transcriptions together, and so was innate WeDigBio. In this annual four-day event, participants can join others at institutions such as museums and universities, or can register on their own.

At onsite events, participants mostly have the eventuality to hear a speak from a researcher, get a behind-the-scenes debate of the collections, play games and win prizes, and correlate with participants at other events around the world. Regular activity on social media and on the virtual assembly space Sococo, allows participants to interact, share photos and highlights, benefaction hurdles to any other, and just to contend “Hi!” regardless of either or not they are at an onsite event.

Each year, WeDigBio starts on the third Thursday of October. This year, the dates are Oct 19-22, 2017. Onsite events will be posted on SciStarter, finish with directions for how you can join. If you don’t see an eventuality nearby you, you can minister directly to the online transcription platforms that are dependent with WeDigBio. Each height hosts opposite transcription projects, so have a demeanour at any and find your favorite:

CitSciScribe: register citation labels from organisms of the southeastern United States with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

DigiVol: global biodiversity crowdsourcing with the Australian Museum and Atlas of Living Australia

DIY History: register egg cards from the late 1800s and early 1900s at the University of Iowa Libraries

Les Herbonautes: register and georeference plant citation labels housed at the National Museum of Natural History, Paris, France

Notes from Nature: explain and register global biodiversity specimens and labels with Zooniverse

Smithsonian Institution Transcription Center: register texts and citation labels from the s Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History’s collections

You can learn some-more about WeDigBio at wedigbio.org, and by the Twitter and Facebook pages. During the event, all of these pages will be abuzz with updates and activity! For a glimpse at past year’s events, check out the summaries from 2015 and 2016.

If you’re extraordinary about hosting an onsite event, this year or in the future, sign up to be combined to the email list or feel free to email us.


Dr. Libby Ellwood is a investigate associate at La Brea Tar Pits Museum in Los Angeles, CA.

Want some-more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With 1100+ citizen scholarship projects travelling every margin of research, charge and age group, there’s something for everyone!

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