Final Update: Inaugural Digital Data in Biodiversity Research Conference, 5-6 June 2017, Ann Arbor, Michigan


Registration and Abstract Submission are now open for the Inaugural Digital Data in Biodiversity Research Conference, 5-6 June 2017, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Conference sponsors include iDigBio, the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, the University of Michigan Herbarium, and the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology.

Abstracts: Registered attendees will receive a link via email for abstract submission and may submit abstracts for posters or presentations. Abstracts should not exceed 200 words. Multiple abstract submissions are permitted. Please see Suggested Themes for Presentations and Posters below.

The deadline for submitting abstracts is 15 April 2017.

Registration Fees:
Students: $20.00
Professionals: $50.00

Conference capacity is limited. Early registration is encouraged. Registration closes 15 May. However, the limited capacity for this conference might require an earlier closure.

To Register:

More about the conference is available below. Please note that you will be requested to select your preferred workshop (list below) as part of the registration procedure.


Afternoon Workshops


Three Monday afternoon workshops are offered (1:30-5:00 p.m.). You will be asked to rank your choices during the registration process. Below are the workshop titles, leaders, and descriptions. Specific instructions for each workshop will be emailed to you following the close of registration.


Digital Data and the North American Nodes of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility

Leaders: Bob Hanner, Stinger Guala, James Macklin

We are especially pleased to announce that the North American Nodes of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) are joining the conference program. GBIF ( serves as the global aggregator of species occurrence data and succeeds through the cooperation of a massive global network of regional nodes and other collaborators. GBIF leaders will host an afternoon, town hall style session that will clarify and discuss the relationships, contributions, collaborations, and immediate plans for cooperative work across the Canadian ( and US ( country nodes, the North American Node, and collaborators such as the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (, the ITIS/Species2000 Catalogue of Life ( and iDigBio ( The use of GBIF data in biodiversity research will be featured.


Automated Species Range Map Construction through Aggregated Global Museum Records

Leaders: Pascal Title, Alison Davis Rabosky

This afternoon workshop will teach participants how to use automated pipelines in the R software environment to create, standardize, quality check, and curate species range polygons for any terrestrial vertebrate species that is represented in digitized museum collections.  We will explore batch processing for hundreds to thousands of species at once, using tests of spatial co-occurrence hypotheses as a framework for the ecological questions that can be answered through these methods.  We will also examine the rapid generation of high quality figures demonstrating a) range overlap, and b) diversity “heat maps” for both research and teaching uses.


Computational Macroevolution: Analysis and Visualization of Complex Evolutionary Dynamics on Phylogenies
Leader: Dan Rabosky, Jonathan Mitchell
This workshop will focus on the analysis and visualization of macroevolutionary rates on phylogenetic trees using BAMM and other methods. Analyses will include speciation-extinction dynamics as well as phenotypic evolution. The workshop will assume familiarity with the R environment and some prior usage of command line programs. Participants will need to work on their own laptops and are welcome to bring at least one suitable data set (time calibrated phylogenies, possibly with trait data) for use during the workshop, although example datasets will be provided. 


The current list of featured plenary speakers includes:

·         Beth Brainerd, Brown University

·         Dori Contreras, Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley

·         Mike Donoghue, Yale University

·         Dan Fisher, Museum of Paleontology, University of Michigan

·         Lawrence Hudson, Natural History Museum, London

·         Maureen Kearney, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

·         Peter McCartney, U. S. National Science Foundation

·         Stephen Smith, University of Michigan

·         Pam Soltis, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida

·         Adam Summers, University of Washington

·         Mike Webster, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Cornell University

The rapid mobilization of digitized biodiversity data, led largely in the United States by the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections program, has resulted in a substantial increase in available data for research and related activities. This conference will encompass the uses of digitized data across all biodiversity disciplines, with special emphasis on digitized specimen data and the potential for “big data” analytics in organismal biology. This conference will provide an important opportunity to explore digital data tools, techniques, discoveries, and outcomes across the biodiversity sciences.

Suggested Themes for Presentations and Posters

Oral presentations and posters should emphasize the use of digital data for biodiversity research, inclusive of the neontological and paleontological domains. Emphases might include:

·         published or publishable biodiversity research that depends on digital datasets,

·         systematics and the use of digital data,

·         ongoing research projects that derive from and use digital datasets,

·         gaps and deficiencies in currently available digital data that hinder effective use,

·         user critiques of digital data aggregators and providers,

·         integrated digitization/data use/research pipelines,

·         standards and practices for depositing and documenting open access digital datasets,

·         the role and relevance of “Big Data” in biodiversity research,

·         use of digitized biodiversity data within the ecological sciences,

·         the relative importance of digital data derived from specimens vs. observations,

·         managing digital biodiversity data in support of research pipelines, and

·         analyzing and visualizing biodiversity digital data.


The planning team for the conference includes: Chris Dick, Dan Fisher, Rich Rabeler, Alison Davis Rabosky, Dan Rabosky, Adam Rountrey, Cody Thompson, and Priscilla Tucker from the University of Michigan, and Gil Nelson, Larry Page, Pam Soltis, and Alex Thompson from iDigBio.

For further information or to ensure that you are on the email list, please contact Gil Nelson at iDigBio (