Monday, June 01, 2009

Help wanted to write book of life: another EOL blunder

There are about 400 biodiversity informatics people from all around the world sitting here in London talking about biodiversity informatics (e-biosphere, London), talking about where we stand with the biodiversity informatics, access to biodiversity information. The way it is communicated to the outside world is, that it is the US and the UK who develop the book of life. What about all the rest? What about all the contributors needed to fill their shell?

I think this is an odd flaw in communication that should not happen. EOL with their experience in PR can not blame BBC that they did not get the point.
If I would be a EU-commissioner, I would definitely question what all the taxpayers money do, same for the Australians.

I also think, it is pretty much stressing the point that the North does it all.

BBC online, June 1, 2009

"A virtual book of all life on Earth is being created by UK and US scientists.

The online reference work will create a detailed world map of flora and fauna and track changes in biodiversity.

The database, dubbed a "macroscopic observatory', will be populated with data about local species gathered by members of the public.

Early elements of the giant database, such as automatic species identification systems, are already under construction.

Field guide

Over time the database will log shifts in species and other data such as changes in the density of forests and when plants first flower.

The backers of the idea hope that the vast, virtual book of life will eventually be comparable to the global system used to watch for and record earthquakes.

The ongoing project will constantly gather data so it can plot information about the range and abundance of plants and animals as worldwide temperature and rainfall patterns shift in response to climate change.

Details held on the database will include everything from gross anatomical details down to individual genes.

"We are creating a virtual observatory for world biodiversity, where environmental observations, specimen data, experimental results, and sophisticated modelling can be done across all levels of biodiversity - from genes to ecosystems," said James Edwards, executive director of the Encyclopedia of Life, in a statement.

The Encyclopedia, based at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, and the London's Natural History Museum are the key backers of the project. The push to create the observatory was unveiled at the e-Biosphere 09 conference held from 1-3 June in London.

As well as logging long-term changes brought about by climate change, the creators of the online observatory hope it will bring more tangible benefits.

It could give early warnings about invasive species or, for example, give insights into the timing, altitude and route of bird migrations in ways that could reduce bird strike numbers on aircraft.

The observatory would also serve as a hi-tech field guide for anyone who wanted to identify animals, insects, trees or flowers they found while on holiday or near their home.

Within 10 years, expect its backers, all aspects of the database will be available. Some parts of the system, such as images of species, maps of the seas and gene sequences to help with DNA barcoding, are already in use. "


Blogger Jim said...

It is one of the ironies of biodiversity information management that those who seek to manage biodiversity information for the planet do not have the planet's biodiversity and those who have the biodiversity do not have the capacity to manage the information.

But hopefully we can all behave as a single planet.

6:01 AM  

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