From Historical Field Notes to Mobile Field Guides: Encyclopedia of Life
(EOL) and Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) tea...
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2014 esa brewsternotes8042014


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Poster presentation on linking BHL and EOl using William Brewster's digitized field notes for the Ecological Society of America 2014.

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2014 esa brewsternotes8042014

  1. 1. From Historical Field Notes to Mobile Field Guides: Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) and Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) team up to connect biodiversity content across the centuries Marie Studer*, Joseph deVeer**, Tracy Barbaro*, and Constance Rinaldo** *Encyclopedia of Life, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University **Ernst Mayr Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University The official accession record for one of Brewster’s specimens in the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ) database with links out to the field notes. INTRODUCTION Field notes are a gold mine of unpublished observations, sketches, weather reports and species lists: these records are primary source data at its most raw and unevaluated. How can these handwritten treasure troves of historical information be adapted for today’s tools and researchers? William Brewster was an ornithologist who worked during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This poster shows how his field notes, digitized and deposited in the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), can be linked with current data in the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL). This case example demonstrates how open science projects can be used to connect content from multiple sources to advance scientific and educational pursuits. Field notes are the raw observations of a scientist and may contain anything from descriptions of how he or she felt on a particular day to detailed scientific observations. Funding has come from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ). We wish to thank Heather Yager &Yolanda Bustos from the California Academy of Sciences for sharing the Biocaching app that is under development. DATA SETS METHODS: Digitize, Deposit and Transcribe Brewster’s field notes were digitized and deposited in BHL. RESULTS: Linking and using the data Mobile field guide created in iNaturalist for Brewster’s March checklist. NEXT step is the Biocaching App (under development): “what’s in my neighborhood” based on Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) specimen maps with links to field notes. Curated observations can then be shared with GBIF. CONCLUSIONS Field notes were linked to EOL species pages and an EOL Collection was generated. Check lists of birds from May and November 1892 were selected and transcribed. How can field notes be linked to current data tools and made relevant to scientists and citizen scientists? DATA SETS Open science resources tools and applications are accelerating the rate at which historical and current biodiversity information can be mobilized, customized and turned into participatory activities. The data can be presented in new formats on the web and mobile devices and is broadly available. Here we demonstrate some ways in which historical checklists and current knowledge can be melded using tools that support ecological research, management and educational activities. Brewster’s field notes make it possible to track species changes by comparing his checklists from 1892 to current checklists. By linking these varied data sources and tools, the data life cycle can be completed.
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