Biodiversitists

Dave Chesmore E.D.Chesmore at E-ENG.HULL.AC.UK
Wed May 21 18:41:26 CDT 1997


I have only just picked up this thread and Timothy Utteridge's
message has promted me to make a comment.  I must point out that I
am not a taxonomist or systematist but an electronic
engineer/entomologist who is developing automated methods for
taxonomy (image analysis and acoustics in my case).

I am a member of a new working group whose remit is to look at
taxonomic aids and automated methods, some of which may help to
solve some of the problems I see emerging and would like to get
some feedback to present at the first meeting in July.

Problems:
1.  lack of species manuals, i.e. identification guides;
2.  not every biodiversity surveyor is an expert in every group;
3.  not enough manpower;
4.  lack of funds to perform all identifications in the funded period.

I see technological solutions to some areas:

a)  Computer-based identification keys (not on laptops but on good
ergonomically designed hand-held computers that are rugged, easy
to use in the field and are low cost).

b)  Automated identification systems that can identify to species or at
last genus.  Such systems could pre-sort large catches from traps to
save time.

c)  "Intelligent" traps capable of catching particular species or species
that can't be identified by the system - all other species are logged
and released, again saving time.

The technology already exists for most of the solutions.  It is obvious
that such systems must be highly reliable and not mis-identify
species.  I foresee these systems to be time-savers but in no way
replacements for taxonomists.

I would like to receive comments on:

1.  Experiences with computers in the field, especially if they have
been used with identification keys.
2.  Thoughts on the pros and cons of automating at least some
identifications.

Thanks in advance.

Dr David Chesmore, FRES
Environmental Electronics Research Group
Dept. of Electronic Engineering
University of Hull, Hull, HU6 7RX
Tel: +482 465062;  Fax: +482 466664
Email:  E.D.Chesmore at E-Eng.Hull.AC.UK




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