Biodiversity Informatics

Biodiversity Informatics is the poor, country cousin of Bioinformatics. Where bioinformatics is concerned with the computational aspects of genes and their expression within organisms (usually in the lab) biodiversity informatics is concerned with how we handle data about the occurrence and identity of whole organism out there in the wild or dead in collections of voucher specimens.

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Today I gave my three minute presentation in the FameLab Scottish Final at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh having got through the Edinburgh heat. Needless to say I didn’t win. But reflecting on the whole experience I think it was very worthwhile.  Even after treating myself to sticky cake and a book from…

Read More A future without species: The acme of my FameLab career

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These are just some handy links for me to present at a CETAF Information Science and Technology Committee meeting in Geneva, October 2015. What RBGE publishes Example Edinburgh URI: http://data.rbge.org.uk/herb/E00393164 Leads to 303 redirect with content negotiation: Humans get: Catalogue Page Machines get: RDF page Our RDF also contains a link to an image resource which…

Read More Handy Links for Geneva Meeting

Phytotaxa 73: 17–30 (2012) Phytotaxa 73: 17–30 (2012)

Well maybe it won’t rock science to its foundations but it is nice to have our paper finally published after delays with the proofs. Hyam, R.D., Drinkwater, R.E. & Harris, D.J. Stable citations for herbarium specimens on the internet: an illustration from a taxonomic revision of Duboscia (Malvaceae) Phytotaxa 73: 17–30 (2012). A taxonomic revision…

Read More A Great Day For Science?

I am busy writing a summary of our information resources at RBGE and as part of this I am asking people to list what the high level ‘uses’ of their databases are. I am just after a power point or two worth of information. Most of these databases are catalogues of physical objects – they…

Read More General Functions of a Collections Management System

Whilst I have been working on digitizing the Rhododendron monographs I have also been providing some technical help for Stuart Lindsay who is producing a series of fact sheets for the Ferns of Thailand. This has helped crystallize my thoughts regarding monographs and how we migrate them into the digital age. This post is a…

Read More Hierarchies Make Monographs Obsolete. Fact Sheets Are The Future.

This post deals with the semantics of extraction of data from the Rhododendron monographs. Another post will deal with the technicalities of the actual extraction. The image above shows a species description entry. It was chosen as being a small and simple example for illustrative purposes. I have marked up the bits I am interested…

Read More Extracting Data From the Rhododendron Monographs

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This is a sideline to my working on the Edinburgh Rhododendron monographs. The monographs often quote references to illustrations (icons) of species. This is useful as we know that these are illustrations that have been determined by the author of the account and are therefore “correctly” determined. What a shame we only have an abbreviated…

Read More Links To All Curtis Botanical Magazine Illustrations in BHL

The first two parts of the monograph to be looked at were published in Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh – the house journal of the gardens until 1990. Cullen, J. (1980) Revision of Rhododendron. I. subgenus Rhododendron sections Rhododendron and Pogonanthum. Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. 39:1-207. Chamberlain, D.F. (1982) A…

Read More Rhodo Monographs – Clean Up 1

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has a history of research into the genus Rhododendron stretching back over 100 years. The legacy of this work is a herbarium that contains many type specimens, an amazing living collection and a set of monographs that cover the whole genus. My contribution back in the 1990’s was via my…

Read More EOL Rhododendron Monographs – Getting Started

Following on from my previous post, European Natural History Collections – What’s Missing, it is simple to create a ranked list of countries and an estimate of the number of specimen records they have in GBIF. Countries with a score of zero don’t appear in the list. Country Specimens Spain 2,277,428 France 2,081,208 United Kingdom…

Read More Digitisation of European Collections By Country

I am working on improving the metadata on European natural history collections as part of the Synthesys project. In an earlier post  (Big Collections First) I did an analysis of the data in the Biodiversity Collections Index. I am now building a more detailed list of those large collections (the ones believed to contain more…

Read More European Natural History Collections – What’s Missing?

Last year I did some work on a prototype system called speciesindex.org but have just taken it down and abandoned the idea. You may have reached this post via the speciesindex.org domain as it will probably resolve to here until I use it for something else. Here is how speciesindex.org was described on its one…

Read More SpeciesIndex.org – an impractical, practical solution

I am not sure how to say this. Either: I just had my first Nature Precedings paper published. I just published my first paper on Nature Precedings. The distinction is a big one. Saying I had a paper published implies the blessings of my peers. This is more like vanity publishing or even ‘stupid’ vanity…

Read More Failing To Use OWL To Merge Occurrence Ontologies

These are some figures I culled from Arthur Chapman’s excellent Numbers of Living Species in Australia and the World. The numbers speak for themselves really. Taxon # Known # Estimated % known # To Do % of Problem Chordates 64,788 80,500 80.48 15,712 0.17 Invertebrates 1,359,365 6,755,830 20.12 5,396,465 57.16 Plants (excl. Algae) 297,857 390,800…

Read More Size Of The Biodiversity Problem

I just completed my first weekend on the MSc in Mindfulness Based Approaches at Bangor University. It was a wonderful three days. I enjoyed communing with like minded people and learnt a great deal – notably some of the major differences between psychology research and taxonomy. In response to one of my questions the lecturer…

Read More Biological Diversity & Motivational Diversity