[Taxacom] Fwd: What can Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) do for you?

Chuck Miller Chuck.Miller at mobot.org
Thu Oct 17 16:41:15 CDT 2013


So Steve, is your answer to Rod's question "GBIF can do more to get more data for me from outside North America, Europe and Australia"? Or a different answer?

Chuck



On Oct 16, 2013, at 3:15 PM, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz> wrote:

> Yes, Michael highlights nicely one of the problems that I see, namely a bad extrapolation from a few well-documented taxa to the bigger picture (all organisms). Sure, for a few selected taxa, we have good data. But for most taxa, we have poor data or even no data (many names on CoL are just names, with no meaningful connection to any actual species, for example). My experiences in "museums" is that they are largely chaotic places with only a small fraction of collections in any suitable state to make public the data. For example, after several years of "coming soon", NZAC database has finally gone live (see http://scd.landcareresearch.co.nz/Search/Search/NZAC). The collection has an estimated 8 million specimens. The database currently (after several years work) has just (1) most holotypes and some paratypes; (2) a significant proportion of carabid beetles, and a significant proportion of Hemiptera, but probably not as high as 50%. That's it! At current
> rates, it is unlikely to become comprehensive in the foreseeable future. Most of the reliable data on the database is reliable simply because it has already been worked up and published elsewhere (i.e. in taxonomic revisions). So, there are not only big geographic biases, but taxonomic biases, and reliability biases favouring data already published elsewhere...
>  
> Stephen
> 
> 
> ________________________________
> From: Michael Heads <m.j.heads at gmail.com>
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
> Sent: Wednesday, 16 October 2013 10:08 PM
> Subject: [Taxacom] Fwd: What can Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) do for you?
> 
> 
> GBIF is very good for higher groups in North America, Europe and Australia,
> but these are well known anyway. For global information it's weak. Look at
> the map of Magnoliophyta or Aves - huge areas with no information at all
> in Russia and western China. You're much better off with the standard
> literature. Outside of the higher groups GBIF is dire, e.g. Coleoptera:
> nothing at all in most of Asia and Africa and large parts of Brazil.
> 
> Knapp (Science 341: 1183. 13 Sep. 2013) wrote: 'a look at the [GBIF] data
> reveals huge bias, with diversity highest in the north temperate zones and
> most data points as birds.' (On a slightly different topic she also wrote:
> many outside the field of molecular phylogenetics fail to appreciate that
> these dates, calculated with a “molecular clock” and calibrated with
> fossils, are minimum dates and come with big error bars. Vicariance is
> fighting back, too, with the advent of molecular panbiogeography (Heads,
> 2012))'.
> 
> 
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Michael Heads <m.j.heads at gmail.com>
> Date: Wed, Oct 16, 2013 at 7:39 AM
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] What can Global Biodiversity Information Facility
> (GBIF) do for you?
> To: Roderic Page <r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk>
> 
> 
> On Wed, Oct 16, 2013 at 1:21 AM, Roderic Page <r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk> wrote:
> 
>> I've recently been appointed Chair of the Science Committee of the Global
>> Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) http://www.gbif.org/[1]. The
>> committee is a small group of people with a range of backgrounds, and one
>> of our roles is to advise GBIF on matters scientific (e.g., what kinds of
>> data GBIF should collect?, what kinds of scientific questions should GBIF
>> help answer?, etc.).
>> 
>> There have been formal surveys (see the papers in the journal
>> "Biodiversity Informatics"
>> https://journals.ku.edu/index.php/jbi/issue/view/370/showToc), meetings,
>> and a "vision" statement (the "Global Biodiversity Informatics Outlook,
>> http://www.biodiversityinformatics.org/). But there's always the chance
>> that these fora may miss some points of view, so I'm keen to get feedback
>> on what sort of things GBIF could do to improve the way it can help people
>> tackle the scientific questions they are interested in.
>> 
>> For example, is there some fundamental limitation that GBIF has that
>> prevents it being useful to you? Is there some feature/data type/geographic
>> coverage/etc. that could be addressed that would make it more useful? Is
>> there a role that GBIF should take on that it hasn't done so? A useful
>> analogy might be to think of the central role GenBank plays in genomics,
>> both as a place to archive your data (sequences), a repository of other
>> people's data that you can access, and a research tool (e.g., BLAST
>> searches to locate similar sequences). Is that the sort of thing you'd want
>> from GBIF, or is it something entirely different?
>> 
>> I'd welcome any comments, suggestions, views, etc. You can reply to me
>> directly, or to this email list (if it allows discussions). I've also
>> posted this request on my blog, so you can comment there if you like.
>> 
>> I should stress that this is simply me trying to calibrate my perception
>> of GBIF's role with what others think. Also, note if you have specific
>> comments on things such as the GBIF web site please use the feedback tab on
>> the site (that way it will reach the people who can do something about it).
>> 
>> [1] For those unfamiliar with GBIF, its mission "is to make the world's
>> biodiversity data freely and openly available via the Internet". At present
>> the bulk of the data are observations of organisms (mostly multicellular
>> eukaryotes, i.e., animals, plants and fungi) based on either museum
>> collections or observations of living organisms. You can get an idea of the
>> kind of science that uses GBIF-hosted data from this list of papers on
>> Mendeley http://www.mendeley.com/groups/1068301/gbif-public-library/
>> 
>> ---------------------------------------------------------
>> Roderic Page
>> Professor of Taxonomy
>> Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
>> College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences
>> Graham Kerr Building
>> University of Glasgow
>> Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
>> 
>> Email:          r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
>> Tel:                    +44 141 330 4778
>> Fax:            +44 141 330 2792
>> Skype:          rdmpage
>> Facebook:      http://www.facebook.com/rdmpage
>> LinkedIn:      http://uk.linkedin.com/in/rdmpage
>> Twitter:                http://twitter.com/rdmpage
>> Blog:          http://iphylo.blogspot.com/
>> Home page:      http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/rod.html
>> Wikipedia:      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roderic_D._M._Page
>> Citations:
>> http://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?hl=en&user=4Z5WABAAAAAJ
>> ORCID:          http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7101-9767
>> 
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>> Celebrating 26 years of Taxacom in 2013.
>> 
> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> Dunedin, New Zealand.
> 
> My recent books:
> 
> *Molecular panbiogeography of the tropics.* 2012.* *University of
> California Press, Berkeley.
> 
> *Biogeography of Australasia:  A molecular analysis*. Available January
> 2014. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> Dunedin, New Zealand.
> 
> My recent books:
> 
> *Molecular panbiogeography of the tropics.* 2012.* *University of
> California Press, Berkeley.
> 
> *Biogeography of Australasia:  A molecular analysis*. Available January
> 2014. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
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> The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched with either of these methods:
> 
> (1) by visiting http://taxacom.markmail.org/
> 
> (2) a Google search specified as:  site:mailman.nhm.ku.edu/pipermail/taxacom  your search terms here
> 
> Celebrating 26 years of Taxacom in 2013.


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