[Taxacom] De-extinction & Rhachistia aldabrae

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Thu Oct 23 15:35:20 CDT 2014


Ken may be a little bit oversensitive, given that he probably has to constantly battle the indifference to (and sometimes obstruction of) citizen science, by entomologist colleagues. In my view, biodiversity recording sites like Project Noah, iSpot, iNaturalist, BowerBird, NatureWatch NZ, etc. are not actually all that useful *as initially conceived* (photos in the field of live organisms), but can evolve into something far more useful. I agree that there is not much point in thousands of records of monarch butterflies, and no little brown micro moths. For some idea of my vision for these biodiversity recording sites, I invite you to browse my own 2489 contributions to NatureWatch NZ, here: http://naturewatch.org.nz/observations/stho002

Stephen

--------------------------------------------
On Fri, 24/10/14, John Grehan <calabar.john at gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] De-extinction & Rhachistia aldabrae
 To: "Walker, Ken" <kwalker at museum.vic.gov.au>
 Cc: "Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Friday, 24 October, 2014, 2:51 AM
 
 Ken,
 
 Admittedly I only read postings in a fragmentary way and I
 know I sometimes
 miss items, but I am confused by your reference to Jason
 Mate saying the
 the efforts of citizen science can be dismissed as " are
 taking pictures of
 "bugs": bigger, smaller, red, blue or yellow." What I read
 was that he said
 that "The decline in "natural history" amateurs is global
 and cannot be
 compensated by the explosion of macrophotography since they
 (mostly) are
 taking pictures of "bugs": bigger, smaller, red, blue or
 yellow." This made
 no reference to 'citizen science' and I did not see any
 implication of
 such. It was only a criticism of a particular mode of
 information gathering
 or sharing. I would be grateful therefore for how you made
 that link the
 way you did.
 
 John Grehan
 
 On Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 9:04 PM, Walker, Ken <kwalker at museum.vic.gov.au>
 wrote:
 
 > Hi Jason,
 >
 > I totally disagree with your assessment of citizen
 science being on the
 > decline and that the efforts of citizen science can be
 dismissed as " are
 > taking pictures of "bugs": bigger, smaller, red, blue
 or yellow."
 >
 > Here is Australia, we have a citizen science website
 called BowerBird
 > which is a socially interactive website somewhat like
 the northern
 > hemisphere equivalents of Project Noah, iNaturalist and
 iSpot.  For me, the
 > quality of a citizen science website is whether or not
 the data it
 > generates is on-shared with national or international
 biodiversity
 > databases.
 >
 > Let me give you one BowerBird example that came in this
 month.  A citizen
 > science person submitted an image of a
 ladybeetle.  He had tried to
 > identify it himself but could not place the
 species.  In Australia, we have
 > a wonderful CSIRO website displaying all known extant
 Australian ladybeetle
 > species.  The BowerBird image did not match any of
 the images on the
 > diagnostic website.  So, we sent the image to the
 BMNH ladybeetle expert
 > who came back with the statement "Back from the
 Dead".  The species
 > photographed was presumed to be extinct as it had not
 been seen or recorded
 > since 1940.  The story of this citizen science
 find was told in one of our
 > national newspapers:
 > http://www.theage.com.au/technology/sci-tech/extinct-ladybird-back-from-the-dead-20141014-115u4j.html
 > (where you can see an image of the beetle).
 >
 > To me, the essence of science is to observe and ask
 questions.  What
 > better way is there than to have thousands of "natural
 history amateur
 > eyes" documenting spatial and temporal data for the
 Australian (swap
 > Australia for any other country) biota.  BowerBird
 has discovered new
 > species and helped to track invasive species.  The
 exotic carder bee
 > (Afranthidium (Immanthidium) repetitum) was first
 reported in Brisbane in
 > 2000.  By 2007, it had been recorded  south
 in Sydney but since the Sydney
 > records no further distribution extensions had been
 recorded.  Then in
 > February and March 2014, two amateurs noticed a
 "strange bee" in their
 > garden.  They photographed their strange bee and
 posted the images on
 > BowerBird with the question "Bee ID?".  We bee
 "experts" immediately
 > recognised it as the South African carder bee and the
 records came from
 > hundreds of kilometres north of Brisbane and hundreds
 south of Sydney - on
 > the state of Victoria's border.  Australia has
 many exotic "sleeper weeds"
 > but they remain in small numbers as they lack their
 effective pollinator.
 > The spread of any exotic pollinator needs to be
 monitored and watched for a
 > possible explosion of a sleeper weed. It was citizen
 science who alerted us
 > to this alarming spread.
 >
 > BowerBird "favourites" are often created by an "expert"
 mentoring "natural
 > history amateur eyes" .  One such case is the
 humble but extraordinary life
 > styled and bizarrely coloured flatworms. 
 Australia has only one flatworm
 > expert located in north Queensland.  However, he
 has inspired many
 > BowerBird members from around Australia to roll back
 logs in search of
 > these flatworms.  The expert identifies each
 flatworm image posted to
 > BowerBird but he adds stories about how the scientific
 name was derived and
 > about the species behaviour.  There are now almost
 50 BowerBird members on
 > the Flatworm project who have image captured many of
 Australia's flatworm
 > species.  The expert has told me that for many
 species, the BowerBird
 > images were his first live images for many species - he
 usually sees them
 > as pickled individuals.  The expert has also
 requested and been able to get
 > these amateurs to collect and send him specimens for
 DNA analysis.  If you
 > have never seen a flatworm or want to read something
 about them, then I
 > recommend the flatworm project:
 > http://www.bowerbird.org.au/projects/1633/sightings
 >
 > Finally, the Australian GBIF node is ALA (Atlas of
 Living Australia).
 > BowerBird went live in May 2013 and there are automatic
 weekly data
 > (images. Identifications, spatrila/temporal etc)
 uploads to ALA.
 > Currently, there are almost 11,000 BowerBird records on
 ALA (to see the
 > spread of records from around Australia see:
 > http://biocache.ala.org.au/occurrences/search?q=data_resource_uid:dr893#tab_mapView
 > ).  This represents about a 60% identification
 success rate for images that
 > you describe as "pictures of "bugs": bigger, smaller,
 red, blue or yellow."
 >
 > New species have been nominated, new distributions have
 been recorded, new
 > stories have been told about the Australian fauna, new
 friendships have
 > been made and these new "friends" now go out together
 on their own
 > photographic BioBlitzes and on-share their finds to
 BowerBird to ALA to
 > GBIF.  I'm happy with this deal !!
 >
 > I am sure these stories here can be repeated for
 Project Noah, iNaturalist
 > and iSpot.
 >
 > For me, citizen science is on the up not the
 decline.  Getting
 > "professional" scientists to engage with this "new"
 data source is the next
 > "challenge".
 >
 > Best  Ken
 >
 > -----Original Message-----
 > From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu]
 On Behalf Of JF
 > Mate
 > Sent: Thursday, 23 October 2014 2:14 AM
 > To: Taxacom
 > Subject: Re: [Taxacom] De-extinction & Rhachistia
 aldabrae
 >
 > Hi Bob,
 >
 > I agree the scale is altogether different but even in
 densely populated
 > areas in Australia even basic invertebrate biodiversity
 knowledge is
 > lacking. The decline in "natural history" amateurs is
 global and cannot be
 > compensated by the explosion of macrophotography since
 they (mostly) are
 > taking pictures of "bugs": bigger, smaller, red, blue
 or yellow. If you
 > don´t know what you are photographing then it is like
 it doesn´t exist. For
 > Europe (with some exceptions) the decline may not be as
 damaging. The fauna
 > is well known and there are plenty of guides and keys
 that digital
 > enthusiasts could use. The goal here has at least been
 partially achieved.
 > In Australia, other than butterflies and a couple of
 other popular groups
 > you are out of luck.
 >
 > Cristian. Spain is in a similar (albeit not as extreme)
 situation to
 > Australia. High biodiversity, incomplete knowledge but
 a declining body of
 > amateurs (and legislation that doesn´t help either).
 >
 > Best
 >
 > Jason
 >
 >
 >
 >
 >
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