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hannahcat

BISON Data and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility

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I'll get back to my trip report momentarily, but I just wanted to share one of the most exciting (to me) data resources I've seen in a long time.

 

I went to a satellite group of the White House mapathon this past Thursday. (A mapathon is when a group of people get together to do open source mapping for a good cause. One example would be using satellite pictures to identify structures that might need to be sprayed for mosquitos as part of a malaria prevention effort.) If I had been more on-the-ball, I might have gone to the White House, so I was at first a little disappointed, but it all worked out OK, since if I hadn't gone to the U.S. Geological Survey for the mapathon, I would never have learned about BISON (with which I'm now a little obsessed).

 

BISON (Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation) is an effort to "collect species occurrence data, records of an organism at a particular time in a particular place, as a primary or ancillary function of many biological field investigations." As of right now, they have over 260 million species occurrence records, cataloging over 300,000 species. Here's an example of things that could be built with this enormous database.

 

BISON only has U.S. data, but it's just one node of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). The GBIF houses over 650 million occurrences on over 1.5 million species. Here's their page for exploring their data by country and here's their page for exploring their data by species.

 

Anyway, I still play around sometimes with the idea of some kind of travel website based on sorting by species you want to see/what will you see if you go to X place at Y time. If anyone wants to play around with the data with me, I'd be happy to have company, on this or any other project -- I just think it's super neat.

 

@@Safaridude You're the only person I know for sure is working in conservation, though I know there must be many others. I thought professional conservationists might be particularly interested, though they possibly already know about this.

 

Edited to add: I realized I should have put in links to the mapathon information, just in case anyone was interested in that. Here's where you can find out about the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and here's where you can learn to map if you're interested in contributing (pretty much anyone can contribute -- no special technical knowledge is required).

Edited by hannahcat

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Thanks for helping spread the word on BISON @@hannahcat. I have been contributing to the project for years by first participating in multiple projects that feed data into the Avian Knowledge Network. I have also been a regional editor for Project eBird which is one of the major feeds into the AKN.

 

And the US Bird Banding lab is also a data feed for BISON - the Bird Observatory I co-founded and direct has been feeding data by banding (ringing) birds. Plus other ways...

 

* However:

I was a little surprised not to see BAMONA (Butterflies and Moths of North America) and Odonata Central (Worldwide citizen-science portal for Dragonflies and Damselflies) on the list of BISON data feeds. I wonder if this is an oversight or if they really are not BISON data feeds?

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Wow! That's incredible work you've done. The banded bird data in BISON is just stunning.

 

Before I was introduced to BISON, I had no idea that so much observation data was gathered into one place. I love that they've gone back and scraped old research from the 1800's, and I love that you can (at least theoretically) compare across time/species/classes, etc. It's really an incredible resource.

 

I met Dr. Stinger Guala at the mapathon -- perhaps you know him? He was the one who talked about BISON, and is the director of the Integrated Taxonomic Information System. I got along really well with two of his graduate students, and just had tea with one of them yesterday. Maybe I could ask them abut the butterflies? I got the impression from Dr. Guala's talk that the addition of the banded bird data was a bit of a one-off; apparently, there was so much data in the banded bird system that the AKN (I suppose?) approached the USGS about the possibility of the USGS hosting the data. Clearly, the USGS agreed, and during his talk, Dr. Guala referred to the banded bird data as a model of cooperation and extended an invitation to anyone else in the audience who had big data that they would like someone else to host & manage. The idea (apparently) is that USGS would host the data and that the organizations could then serve it out to their users on their websites as well as BISON, create their own apps, etc. Perhaps something to think about if BAMONA and Odonata Central are not part of BISON as of yet.

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Thanks for that @@hannahcat ! I knew about GBIF, not about BISON. There's also a pretty good initiative from The Netherlands, mainly focusing on birds (and mainly on The Netherlands). The dutch website is: http://www.waarneming.nl and the international version is http://www.observation.org. They're especially nice to make maps. by location, county, province, country, species, nr of species, date ranges, observer etc. Similar to http://www.ebird.org but easier to search (I think, especially by observer), and better options for mapping.

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We're encouraged by the level of interest in and appreciation of BISON. We are indeed currently working with BAMONA and also with BugGuide (among other prominent Data Providers) to add their data feeds to BISON. We have also held talks with Odonata Central about incorporating their data.

 

Elizabeth Sellers

USGS BISON Data Development Specialist

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We're encouraged by the level of interest in and appreciation of BISON. We are indeed currently working with BAMONA and also with BugGuide (among other prominent Data Providers) to add their data feeds to BISON. We have also held talks with Odonata Central about incorporating their data.[/size]

 

Elizabeth Sellers[/size]

USGS BISON Data Development Specialist[/size]

Badass.

 

Thanks @@esellers!

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