The BioGeomancer Project is a worldwide collaboration of natural history and geospatial data experts. The primary goal of the project is to maximize the quality and quantity of biodiversity data that can be mapped in support of scientific research, planning, conservation, and management. The project promotes discussion, manages geospatial data and data standards, and develops software tools in support of this mission.
The BioGeomancer consortium is developing online workbench, web services, and desktop applications that will provide georeferencing for collectors, curators and users of natural history specimens, including software tools to allow natural language processing of archival data records that were collected in many different formats.
Over the past 250 years, biologists have gone into the field to collect specimens and associated environmental information documenting the range of life. The results of these explorations are an irreplaceable archive of Earth's biological diversity that plays a fundamental role in generating new knowledge and guiding conservation decisions. Yet, roughly one billion specimen records, and even more species observation records, remain practically unusable in their current form.
Georeferenced biocollection data is in high demand. Mapping species occurrence data is fundamental to describing and analysing biotic distributions. This information is also critical for conservation planning, reserving selection, monitoring, and the examination of the potential effects of climate change on biodiversity. Increasing the availability of georeferenced species distribution data will vastly increase our ability to understand patterns of biodiversity and to make balanced conservation-related decisions. Most data in these analyses come from natural history collections, which provide unique and irreplaceable information, especially for areas that have undergone habitat change due to clearing for agriculture or ubanization.
We expect that BioGeomancer will have an immediate positive impact on the availability of data from natural history collections. BioGeomancer will bring the cost to value ratio down to the point where every collection that seeks to make its data public will also seek to georefernce those records. For example, for the ORNIS project, the existence of BioGeomancer will make the difference between being able to georeference only North American localities and being able to georeference all of the localities of bird specimen from 30 participating institutions during the course of the project. On the global scale, BioGeomancer will have an impact on standards development within GBIF and the Taxonomic Database Working Group, and the tools developed here are explicitly targeted for interoperability with the GBIF portal.
The BioGeomancer research consortium is coordinated by the University of California at Berkeley and is developing a universal system for geo-referencing the diverse specimen records in natural history collections.
The butterfly, beetle, shell and bottled fish images (courtesy Stuart Humphries) in this website were used with the kind permission of the Australian Museum. The purple flower specimen was used with the kind permission of the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens.
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