E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth iBooks Textbook and iTunes U Course
E. O. Wilson’s Life on Earth is an innovative new iBooks Textbook for high school biology students created by the E. O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation. Available for free on the iBooks Store, Life on Earth is accompanied by an iTunes U course called Biology: Life on Earth. The iTunes U course brings together content from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, National Geographic, the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) and other institutions with content emphasizing important themes like citizen science, evolution, climate change, and the protection of biodiversity.
Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) content and resource are available in the first section of the course: Unity and Diversity of Life on Earth. Activities include an audio interview with E.O. Wilson, creating virtual collections of species and accessing the biodiversity resources available through EOL’s iTunes U collections.
The past several hundred years of marine research have left us with a real embarrassment of riches. A vast amount of information has been discovered and recorded about the world’s oceans. When we started recording it, we probably never imagined how much knowledge we would eventually have at our disposal, and how difficult it could be to wade through it all. Research groups supported by the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) have been combing through the literature and other knowledge stores in their fields and extracting datasets of species attributes of sea birds, copepods, macro algae and other groups, and are preparing this information for dissemination online. These data will be shared via the EMODnet data portal as well as familiar venues like the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) and EOL Traitbank.
25 scientists from EMODnet, WoRMS, EOL, and several pioneering research groups which have been unearthing the first of these datasets met last week at the headquarters of Ifremer in France to discuss how best to continue this data hunt, which attributes to prioritize, and how best to format and disseminate them so they’ll be available and useful to researchers, policymakers, students, and ecosystem modelers.
A group of researchers has gathered this week in Durham, North Carolina at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) to tackle some fascinating projects about the ecology, evolution, and conservation of biodiversity. What these projects have in common is that that they are all using information from the Encyclopedia of Life or the Biodiversity Heritage Library to answer their questions.
Here are some of the projects:
Esther Quintero and Anne Thessen are text mining data from EOL and BHL in order to statistically assess the conservation risk of species of Mexican amphibians.
Elise Larsen and Yan Wong will figure out how to automatically extract color information from EOL images of butterflies. Variation in color may determine species’ responses to habitat edges and to climate change.
Gordon Burleigh, Scott Chamberlain, Craig McClain, and Meghan Balk are asking if co-occuring sister species in vertebrates show more divergence in body size (for example) than sister species that do not co-occur.
Nicole Angeli and colleagues, along with Javier Otegui, are considering potential co-extinction of mutualistic species due to range shifts in order to inform conservation planning efforts for at-risk species.
Aside from consumption of copious amounts of coffee, we’re consuming and generating vast amounts of data.
Please stay tuned to the EOL blog for some hints of what we are learning, and follow our progress on Twitter this week via the #eolbhl hashtag.
We are eager to hear your responses to the new functionality and data. Please note that there are already quite a few things on our list of “things we’d like to do”. We would value your feedback to help us focus on what’s most important to you.
Data records and attributes in TraitBank are just the tip of the iceberg so far. We’ll planning to add many more sources, including detailed morphological data, so stay tuned. If you want your own dataset to appear on EOL pages, please contact us.
We’re very interested in basic visualizations of TraitBank data that could help people explore and draw meaning from large amounts of data. If you develop such visualizations using EOL, please do let us know.
We are aware that we still have more than one attribute with the same label and the same or similar definitions. Where we can we plan to merge these. In some cases we can re-import the data but in others we’ll need to tell our system that the two attributes are similar enough that we can merge them,
It isn’t possible yet to search or download ecological association data records.
As with most text mining projects, the data from one of our largest sources, ENVIRONMENT-EOL are not perfectly clean. They will be improving over time. Please leave comments on all wrong or awkward data records, and if you are a curator please do use the hide link to keep them from being shown to all users.
We know that some attributes are subsets of others or of some higher category (such as “size”) but we haven’t enabled any interesting semantics that help out machine reasoning.
While we have some information about type specimens in TraitBank, we haven’t come to a final solution on the best way to deal with types. Your input would be welcome.
Some basic statistics about TraitBank holdings are already in our site statistics, but there’s much more we could do with this.
We know that it will be useful to have an advanced search that allows you to combine attributes with each other or with a geographic search.
For those of you who want machine access to the data we are considering a SPARQL endpoint and/or API access. For the moment, we are facilitating downloads that are as complete as possible.
We will be developing richer documentation over the next few months. Please let us know what you are most interested in knowing.
Please add your comments to this post, or send an email to email@example.com with your comments. Thanks!
Landmark open repository of species facts and measurements now available to support research, education and conservation goals
Washington, D.C., January 27, 2014 – The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) today announces the first release of TraitBank™, a comprehensive, searchable and open digital repository for organism traits, measurements, interactions and other facts for all species and groups of species. It fills an urgent need among global research, education and conservation communities for a reliable, curated, comprehensive source of trusted data across the tree of life, as well as the need for a public platform for sharing scientific data in a consistent, accessible manner.
With TraitBank, EOL can help scientists develop and test hypotheses explaining patterns in nature, or estimate food webs by identifying organisms known to interact with each other. It can also be used to address “easy to ask but difficult to answer” questions such as “Which whales weigh more than 10,000 kg?” and “Which plants have blue flowers?”
Developed with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, TraitBank (http://eol.org/traitbank) is integrated into the fabric of the EOL website (http://eol.org), where it leverages EOL’s existing infrastructure for taxonomic names, content organization, curation roles and search. Data records are aggregated from a wide variety of sources, including databases, literature tables, spreadsheets and individual contributors. At launch, TraitBank features over 3 million records related to more than 250 attributes for over 250,000 taxa (species and groups of species) obtained from 27 data sources. It is expected to grow substantially as existing and new trait data records are loaded into TraitBank over time.
“TraitBank is unique in serving up reliable real-world data for the entire tree of life,” said Dr. Drew Purves, head of the Computational Ecology and Environmental Science Group at Microsoft Research Cambridge. “To those of us trying to build Global Ecosystem Models, it’s like someone just handed us a list of parts.”
“TraitBank will help accelerate the research process by providing a free, open and accessible way for investigators to share and discover species traits, measurements and interactions,” said Bob Corrigan, Director of Operations for the Encyclopedia of Life. “The motivation behind TraitBank was to make it easy for users to get a comprehensive picture of these data for any given species or group of species, and then give them access to the underlying publications and data sets quickly. We’re delighted to share TraitBank with the world, and we’re looking forward to working with scientists and educators to make it as useful to them as possible.”
The EOL team has the capacity to help researchers make the best use of existing TraitBank capabilities and provide expertise for data mobilization, extraction and analysis efforts. EOL is also interested in reviewing opportunities to extend TraitBank’s capabilities to support project-specific requirements, and it invites biodiversity researchers to take advantage of the significant investments and expertise behind TraitBank as part of their grants and other sponsored projects. To learn more, please contact the EOL Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You have probably seen cans of tuna in your local supermarket marked “dolphin safe.” That label means the tuna was fished in a way that spares most dolphins from being killed in the tuna fleet’s giant nets. In this podcast, biologist and guest reporter Matt Leslie brings us a story about tuna, the intertwined fate of fisheries and dolphins, and the work of scientists.
(New and Improved!) Memory Game from the Encyclopedia of Life
This is the classic game of Memory - remember where you saw a species and try to find its match! There is also a quiz that challenges you to match species names with the pictures.
Try one of our memory games by visiting this site and looking under “Featured Games”. You don’t need to login to play, simply click on a game icon. To create your own Memory Game, you will need to create a login and password.
You’ll see some changes with the latest update to Memory. In addition to speed improvements, you can now also play against Elephas, the computer with a good memory. Good luck!
Note: EOL Memory works best in Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari internet browsers
In the recent NESCent Research Sprint Call for Proposals we invited biologists to think of questions that EOL and BHL could help answer. We’ll provide an informatician to extract and integrate the data that are needed. Some fantastic ideas have already been suggested by Rod Page in his iPhylo post.
To help you come up with do-able, interesting, big data questions, here is a snapshot as of early October 2013 of what we have on EOL. Some numbers are rounded to the nearest 1000. Also see our daily statistics for more information and feel free to ask questions in the EOL Forum.
3.6 million taxon pages (aka taxon concepts):
322,000 above “species” level
1.85 million at species level (not counting 551,000 NCBI-only taxa)
216,000 below species level
640,000 don’t have any rank information (likely from NCBI)
551,000 are only in NCBI, many of these are likely to be dark taxa
Of these 3.6 million pages, 1,368,301 pages have some content associated with them. The balance are pages with a name, but no content…yet.
These pages represent the aggregation and reconciliation of:
31.8 million name usages provided to EOL by its partners (name-taxon-source combinations) of which…
17 million are unique names, including
5.2 million scientific names that are considered valid by at least 1 partner
638,000 common names (including 23,000 added directly by EOL members)
1.9 million synonyms
From 19 taxonomic hierarchy providers available via the API, as well as 250+ other taxonomic sources we’ve mapped across
6 million data objects
also 30,000 sounds and 10,000 videos
For your text-mining pleasure, EOL’s text objects are distributed across the following top 6 subjects:
Early next year we’ll introduce support for structured data. So far we have:
21 trait datasets
268,000 taxa with some trait data
170 types of traits (including types of relations between taxa)
2.8 million trait data records
Common trait types include:
Minimum and Maximum Latitude and Longitude
Minimum and Maximum Depth and Temperature
Water chemistry parameters such as maximum phosphate and salinity and oxygen
Adult body mass
First appearance in the fossil record
Beta testing for these new features starts Monday, October 28, 2013. If you would like to be a beta tester, please email us at email@example.com to sign up. If you know of a great dataset of traits that is freely shareable, please let us know!
The batman of Mexico has his own bat-cave. He just shares it with 4,000 Mexican long-nosed bats. In this episode, join researcher Rodrigo Medellin as he descends into the Devil’s Cave just north of Mexico City. It’s a journey that started decades ago when Medellin was on a game show as a boy. He lost the game show, but won a prize far more valuable—for himself, his students, and Mexico’s bats. Ari Daniel Shapiro reports from Tepoztlán.
Some will argue that we don’t need another acronym — certainly we already have plenty! The important thing is for future investments in biodiversity informatics to have the most impact. A visionary document like the GBIO helps funders, tool builders and data providers most efficiently provide the data and knowledge that consumers need.
New EOL Mobile App and Game for iPad and Android Tablets
Introducing M-EOL, a new mobile app for iPad and Android tablets and the winner of the EOL Education Innovation Challenge! Created by Natural Solutions and available on iTunes and Google Play.
Become an explorer, discovering different plant and animal species by travelling around the world. Improve your knowledge about each species through descriptions, images, distribution information, and conservation status from the Encyclopedia of Life website. Explore how organisms in each game collection are related to each other by browsing a dynamic, interactive graph.
I’m happy to report that the private beta for the EOL release codenamed Bocce began yesterday without a hiccup - if you accepted an invitation to participate, you will have received a detailed email from us yesterday with instructions on how to access the beta platform, credentials for logging in, a list of tasks to perform, and guidance on how to access the post-beta survey.
If you did not receive your beta instructions, drop me a note. We want your feedback.
It’s fair to say we’re all a bit excited about this release. It’s different than anything we’ve done before, and I think it has the possibility to change the world. I don’t get to say that about everything we do, but this time, we’re on to something big.
The private beta will run for the next two weeks, then we will hunker down, digest the feedback, tune up what needs tuning up, push some final features, then ramp up for a public beta coming later this fall.
New One Species at a Time Podcast: New Species in the Old World
You don’t always have to venture into the heart of a rain forest to discover a new species. Sometimes all you have to do is look more closely, right where you are. In Europe, experts and enthusiasts alike are looking high and low, from alpine meadows to underground caves, in search of Old World species new to science.
National Moth Week offers everyone, everywhere a unique opportunity to become a Citizen Scientist and contribute scientific data about moths. Through partnerships with major online biological data depositories such as EOL, National Moth Week participants can help map moth distribution and provide needed information on other life history aspects around the globe.
This article is to introduce some glossaries used or defined by us in this project and the work of database design.
Taxon is a taxonomic unit or group which may be named or not. A taxon encompasses all included taxa of lower rank and individual organisms. Taxonomic rank describes the level of a taxon in a taxonomic hierarchy for nomenclatural purposes. Each rank is either mandatory (e.g. kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species) or optional (e.g. subkingdom, subphylum, subclass, subfamily, subgenus, subspecies). Nominal taxon isa concept of a taxon which is denoted by an available name based on a name-bearing type.
(2) Taxon Concept
The scope of a taxon may differ from one taxonomists to another, and changes with new data. Each opinion as to what is intended by the name of a taxon is a ‘taxon concept’.
(3) Taxonomic Hierarchy
Taxa are arranged hierarchically from high rank to low rank, and compose a taxonomic hierarchy (or “taxonomic tree” and “taxonomic classification”) that reflects the view on classification. As well known, taxonomic hierarchy is usually tree-based and can be regarded as a special case of mathematical tree technically.
(4) Nominal Relation (NR)
Because of the inexact nature of taxonomy, different taxonomies may use different names for the same taxon concepts and the same name for different taxon concepts (Homonym). When compare two taxon concepts from different hierarchies, scientific names including accepted name and synonyms for the concepts usually provide important clues about the relationship between them, and that is named as Nominal Relation.
(5) Ancestor Relation (AR)
Ancestor Relation is defined to describe the relationship between two compared taxa by their parent paths.
(6) Descendant Relation (DR)
Descendant Relation is intended for assessing the similarity of the branches under the compared taxa.
(7) Taxon Link (TL)
Taxon Link is defined as a triple tuple (AR, NR, DR). It is the result of taxon to taxon comparison, and intended for representing the combined relationships among compared taxa.
(8) Compared Tree and Reference Tree
Just like subtraction, the hierarchy to be compared on the left of the comparator is regarded as compared tree (CT) and the hierarchy for comparing on the right of the operator is called reference tree (RT).
As a 2013 EOL Rubenstein Fellow, my project is “Using the multiple classifications harvested by EOL for analysis to obtain the degree of coverage and congruence among hierarchies and nomenclatures.” As we know, many taxonomic hierarchies have been created due to:
a. Taxonomists have different views on biological classification
b. New technologies like phylogenetics create new perspectives on taxa relationships.
c. Biological classification is a job proceeding with time, and the old classification should be updated when new groups of species or specimens are found.
d. The scopes and coverage of different classifications are usually geographically restricted.
Analysis on these hierarchies (or taxonomic trees) to find out the congruence and incongruence is interesting, and required both by researchers on biodiversity informatics and taxonomy according to our first stage requirement analysis. Considering the long term usage and the requirement of potential users, we plan to implement a mature tool Taxonomic Hierarchy Comparator (THC) for managing and comparing different taxonomic hierarchies.
Potential Users of THC:
1. Researchers on Biodiversity Informatics who want to know where the differences are among the hierarchies, what biological group is hot, and where the gap to be filled is.
2. Taxonomists who want to find out the incongruence between their taxonomic views and others’. They can analysis their own hierarchies against with EOL hierarchies.
Main Functional Requirement
1. User management
User should have an account before using THC. That will help them to create and manage their own taxonomic hierarchies and keep analysis experiment result permanently for reuse. User management is required to manage user account including registration, authorization, log in/out, and account update.
2. Hierarchy management
a. Create hierarchy: hierarchy can be created from different methods. User can upload an Xml in BSBC format or DWCA file, or copy a hierarchy from shared hierarchies’ pool. EOL hierarchies will be imported to THC by web API provided by EOL.
b. Edit hierarchy: a simple editor for user to modify the hierarchies. It will help user to edit scientific names, change position of taxon, insert new taxon, and delete taxon.
c. Share hierarchy: user can share his own hierarchies to others for analysis, but others cannot modify the shared hierarchies.
d. Export hierarchy: help users to save their hierarchy as standard DWCA file or BSBC xml.
3. Analysis experiment
a. Create experiment: give an identifier and some descriptions for the experiment; select which hierarchies for analysis. THC will keep the analysis result.
b. Share experiment: result of analysis can be shared with other users
c. Implementation: submit the analysis task to server, and waiting for response message. It is a time consuming process, so task queue is required to deal with multiple analysis tasks. Analysis is based on algorithm proposed by us.
d. Visualization: it is an important function for expressing analysis result. It should show where the congruence and incongruence explicitly is.
e. Computation: base on the result, “intersection” computation between two hierarchies is to extract the common part and “difference” is to produce the incongruence part.
Some use cases have been designed to show how users or manager engage THC and how the requirements are realized in the context of software. Fig1 is the use case of experiment.
Fig1 Use Case of Experiment
Another progress is a paper about the method and algorithm is being written, and we hope it can be published in a relative journal in next stage.
More progresses are about database design and interface design and will be posted at the end of July.
This article is excerpted from “requirement analysis of THC”
New One Species at a Time Podcast: Saltwater Crocodile
The city of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory lies in the heart of crocodile country. In the 1950s, saltwater crocodiles were shot, skinned, and turned into shoes and handbags. After hunting was banned in the 1970s, crocodile numbers climbed. Now there’s a croc for every man, woman, and child in Darwin. Can the human citizens learn to live alongside their toothy neighbors?
Request for feedback regarding "Add to Reddit" button on EOL
The EOL development team is considering adding a “share with Reddit” button to EOL pages everywhere similar buttons to “Tweet” and “Like on Facebook” are found.
The debate comes down to the tension between supporting Reddit users who want to share EOL content with their various communities vs concerns about Reddit in general, especially in light of some of the content found on the site.
Do you have an opinion? Please share it with me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweeting a message to @eol or @eolpm - and thank you.
In our latest podcast we venture to Santa Cruz Island, off the coast of California, to look into the mystery of the island’s tiny foxes, descendants of gray foxes who rafted over from the mainland more than ten thousand years ago and branched off to form a new, smaller species.
Despite weighing a mere three pounds, these diminutive grey foxes thrived and for millennia they reigned as the island’s top predator. But twenty years ago, their numbers began to plummet, from three thousand in the early 1990s to fewer than one hundred by 2000. Learn how conservationists solved the puzzle of the vanishing foxes and helped them stage a comeback.
Anabas testudineus, a small fish from Indian waters, testudineus means “turtle like”(1) commonly called as climbing perch .This is a fish widely distributed throughout south and south east Asia. It is a very common fish found in the river and pond waters of Machilipatnam and Eluru of Andhra Pradesh. It is a Bengali delicacy and is frequently exported to West Bengal from Eluru. Its common name in Bengali is Koi and in Telugu it is called as “Gorkalu” This fish is a column feeder and a larvicidal fish (feeds upon mosquito larvae,(2) )and hence used to control mosquito larvae. Anabas is grayish green in color and has brown fins. It grows up to 9 inches and is a very hardy fish, due to the presence of accessory respiratory organ. (Rosette like structures found very close to the pectoral fin) and is known to survive for 8 years in captivity (3) basically a carnivorous fish, also known to eat rice (4)
Body is covered by cycloid scales. Lateral line sense organ is identified by the black spots as conspicuous one at the base of the caudal fin (5)
Male and female fishes are identified only during the breeding season, by the difference in their color. During the breeding season, the females show a brilliant orange color with shades of yellow on the ventral side of the abdomen and also on the pelvic fin. During spawning season the abdomen of the female is slightly bulged out.(6)
Climbing perch can live in water low in oxygen, polluted water, and also water with rotting vegetation. In such waters, the fish rises to surface and gulps air.
Anabas can survive out of water for about 6-10hours (7)
During dry seasons, the fish burrows in the mud and is in resting phase. It is interesting to see the fish travelling in troops on the ground, during early morning and at times of rain storm. This is a migratory fish, migrating from one pond to another during rainy season for spawning (8)
Legend about the Climbing Perch: As this fish is frequently found on tree tops and also found hanging from trees or living in water filled slits of a palm tree (9). It was believed that the fish would travel and climbing the trees. This was observed and confirmed by Lieutenant Daldrof of the Danish East India Company in the year 1797, so people believed it to be truly climbing perch for nearly 250 years. It was in the year 1927, that this myth about this fish as climbing perch was clarified by the study of B.K Das,(10) an Indian expert on fishes.
This fish, when travelling as troops are often caught by birds such as pond crows and kites catch and carry them off and park them on tree tops, and slits of trees. Perch can live without water for days and so were found alive on most of tree tops and hence the name as climbing perch. As the myth has been cleared, it is more appropriately now called as “Walking Perch” rather than as climbing perch. (11)
G.Chandra, I.Bhattacharjee, S.N Chatterjee and A.Ghosh(2008); “Mosquito Control by larvivorous fish”; Indian Journal of Medical Research 127; pp-13-27
Flower, (1925) “ Contributions to our knowledge of the duration of life in vertebrate animals I. Fishes; Journal; Proc Zool Society, London 1; 247-267
Jeffery B.Graham (1997); in the book titled “Air breathing Fishes, Evolution, diversity and adaptation” Academic Press
R.Premakumari (1988); PhD thesis titled “ Some aspects of physiology of fish under nutritional stress” submitted to Osmania University, Hyderabad, INDIA
Shantha Vijaya raghavan, (1981); “ Some aspects of Physiology of digestion on fish. PhD thesis ; Osmania University, Hyderabad, INDIA
Hughes ,G.M and Singh , B.N (1970) “ Respiration in an air breathing fish, the climbing perch, Anabas testudineus (Bloch) I .Oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide release in to air and water” J Expt Biology 53;265-280
Natarajan, G.M (1972); “ Studies on the respiration of Anabas scandens (Cuvier)”, M.Sc thesis submitted to ICAR, New Delhi, INDIA
Jesse Mitchell (1864), “On the Climbing habits of Anabas Scandens”, Annals and Magazine of Natural History 13; 117-119
Das,B.K (1927) “ The Bionics of certain air breathing fishes of Indian, together with an account of the development of their air breathing organs” Phil. Trans .Ser.B 216: 433; 183-219
Maurice Burton,(1984) ; Encyclopedia of reptiles, amphibians and other cold blooded animals; BPC Publishers
With the coming of spring here in DC the streets are full of spring-breakers enjoying the sights - and today, even a bit of warm weather for a change. The famous Cherry Blossoms are expected to “peak” between from April 3 to April 6, so if you’re planning on stopping by, it’s time to make plans.
At EOL we’ve got a number of projects early in their blooming season, courtesy of the Rubenstein Research Fellows and the Computable Data Challenge awardees. As EOL works to provide support for researchers and public participation in science, projects like these are leading the way.
Speaking of seasons, we’re coming up on a few important milestones - our spring Executive Committee call, a briefing of our scientific advisory group related to EOL’s growing support for “computable data”, and continued progress with updates to our field guide tools.
And if you’ve been paying attention, EOL is creeping up on having 1.3 million taxon pages with content. As much as I talk about this being a marathon and not a sprint, it’s very satisfying to see the progress we’ve made establishing a strong footprint of coverage in EOL. The challenge now is to continue to build depth and variety. Well, one of the challenges.
Two more items for you today:
1. The EOL Learning & Education Group at Harvard, in cooperation with their partners at Atlantic Public Media, continue to release OUTSTANDING podcasts. You can subscribe to them at iTunes - make sure to listen to the latest episode on the Bowhead Whale.
2. The soft launch of the new EOL Magazine on Flipboard has illustrated some of the strengths and challenges of the medium, but mostly the strengths - Flipboard is a beautiful and fun way to share knowledge about life on Earth with all of you. To learn more visit this link.
Please feel free to drop us a line via the blog if you’d like to get in touch and chat about ideas, about content, about software, whatever.
I’m interested in bringing a marketing intern into EOL to help us with some exciting new projects. If you know of anyone who could join us at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History for a few months this year, let me know by sending an email to bcorrigan at eol dot org.
New Content from The Freshwater and Marine Image Bank, presented by the Univ. of Washington Libraries
We are delighted to welcome our newest content partner, The Freshwater and Marine Image Bank, presented by the University of Washington Libraries. The more than 21,000 images were taken from a variety of publications issued between 1735 and 1924. The scholarly can find the full reference from which an image originated on the object page under Source information. See the full collection on EOL.
Celebrate oceans today by getting to know EOL collaborators around the world working on diverse marine research projects -
Students from the Marine Biodiversity and Conservation SEA semester program will be sharing data collected during their voyage with EOL via several of our marine content partners. Follow their progress via blog posts from the high seas.
Finally, get to know Sedna IV, an oceanographic schooner. On April 18, 2012, the Sedna IV, in partnership with the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biodiversity, set off on one of the most important scientific and filmmaking expeditions of modern times: 1000 Days for the Planet. The crew of mariners, scientists, and filmmakers are sailing around the world to reveal our planet’s extraordinary beauty, to understand how our ecosystems work, and to ponder the great conservation challenges that face us all.
We invite ideas for scientific research projects that use Encyclopedia of Life http://www.eol.org, including the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL, http://biodiversitylibrary.org), to answer questions in biology. EOL and BHL have assembled text and multimedia about more than a million taxa from more than two hundred organismal databases and 38 million digitized pages of biodiversity literature. Everything is in the public domain or available for text mining and re-use under explicit Creative Commons licenses.
The specific field of biological interest for the challenge is open. EOL may be used as a source of biological data, to establish a sampling strategy, to assist the retrieval of computable data by mapping identifiers across sources (e.g. to accomplish name resolution), and/or in other innovative ways. Projects involving data or text or image mining of EOL or BHL content are encouraged.
Total available prize funds are US$50,000. Multiple awards are possible, depending on submitted budgets. All prize funds must be spent before May 31, 2013.
News: Biodiversity art show opening at Chicago's Field Museum May 22 - International Day of Biodiversity
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, May 21, 2012 - “Nature’s Toolbox: Biodiversity, Art, and Invention,” a new traveling contemporary art exhibition, opens at Chicago’s Field Museum May 22. Harnessing technology and inspired by nature’s amazing design concepts, the show’s innovative, eye-capturing art helps visitors understand and appreciate the life-or-death interdependence between the 10-20 million species on earth – including humans – and the quality of the environment we share.
“Many people still don’t realize how much our very lives depend on the biodiversity of plants, animals, and everything else,” says Randy Jayne Rosenberg, Curator of the show and Executive Director of Art Works For Change, which developed and manages it. Indeed, some ecologists predict that half of all mammals and birds could be extinct within the next century, with similar losses in plants, marine life, and other species – entire ecosystems, in fact. Each loss carries with it lost benefits to human well-being because of the key roles these species play in providing such things as clean air and water, pollination, and climate regulation.
The purpose of the exhibition is to show that humans aren’t just part of the problem but also the solution: by harnessing nature’s most brilliant ideas, we can improve the quality of human life while living in harmony with nature. In “Nature’s Toolbox”, which features artworks from artists around the world across a wide range of media, Rosenberg asked artists to use nature’s wisdom as the inspiration for new artworks. “They explored its genius and found opportunities for invention by employing the lessons nature offers,” she says. “We learn, for example, how by mimicking nature we can harness energy from algae, create fabric with the strength of a spider’s web, self-medicate like a chimp, create amphibian cities with the structure of a lilypad, and build walls made from sugar.”
The show brings viewers a fresh perspective on the relationship between everyday activities and biodiversity, such as Donna Ozawa’s Waribashi Project, an impressive display constructed of 90,000 waribashi, or disposable chopsticks. Every year hundreds of billions of waribashi are thrown away after just a single use, contributing to deforestation, one of the largest contributors to the loss of species.
Unique works such as Green Porno, a series of short films by actress Isabella Rossellini on animal sexual behaviors, offer fascinating scientific insight along with a big dose of humor. The exhibition also features Charles Lee’s Dissipative System, a wall of touchable tiles that change color in response to heat – mimicking the color, humidity, and temperature changes in the exoskeleton of a Hercules beetle.
Awareness is the first critical step in changing our individual and collective outlook from one that exploits nature to one that nurtures it, points out Rosenberg. Art builds awareness by helping us visualize our complex relationship to the natural world.
“Science provides facts while art tells stories,” she says, adding. “The need for environmental stories has never been greater – people are hungry for positive images of the future. The stories at the heart of ‘Nature’s Toolbox’ offer fresh solutions, making it clear that humanity is itself an essential piece of this system. By understanding the relationships, not only can we save nature, we can save ourselves, too.”
Entrance to “Nature’s Toolbox” is free with basic admission to The Field Museum. For further information, visit fieldmuseum.org or www.artworksforchange.org. Art Works for Change produces traveling contemporary art exhibitions that address social and environmental issues. It applies the transformative power of art to promote awareness, inspire action and provoke dialogue. The exhibitions serve as catalyst and crucible where artists, museums, advocacy organizations, and the local community can unite in common cause. Art Works for Change is a 501c3 charitable corporation.