iDigBio Update 2017

Dear iDigBio Enthusiasts,

iDigBio is halfway through its seventh year and has many exciting plans for 2018. Moving forward, we will continue working with the collections community to facilitate digitization, mobilization, and use of specimen data, while continuing to enhance the data search portal. iDigBio’s priorities are to work with additional collections to increase digitization and data publishing, promote the use of collections data in research and education, and work on the long-term sustainability of the ADBC collections network. As 2017 comes to an end, we reflect on what iDigBio and you, the digitization community, have accomplished.

Digitization Training & Mobilization

iDigBio continued to build the digitization and research capacity of the biodiversity community by sponsoring workshops on a range of topics such as digitization, digital photography, data use, and Software Carpentry. iDigBio also hosted a number of free webinars on topics ranging from data standards in the new series DarwinCore Hour, to paleo digitization, crowdsourcing, and digital storytelling. We even had two new series appear this year from the Arctos and Symbiota working groups. iDigBio documents presentations, recordings, and other products from events by posting them on the Wiki to ensure that the shared knowledge and accomplishments from these activities become resources for the entire collections community.

iDigBio's IPT service continues to add new specimen datasets, examples include Central Michigan University’s Museum of Cultural and Natural History (MCNH), the Worcester Society of Natural History (ECOT), with continued updates from the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum (BMSM) and Louisiana State Museum (LSU), as well as the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM). We not only help data providers prepare and map their data towards Darwin Core data standards, but also help them achieve USGS endorsement for ingestion by GBIF. This year we became an official GBIF data hosting center and organizational member and we continue to provide support to VertNet.

Data Access via iDigBio Portal

The iDigBio Portal now has over 105 million specimen records and 22 million media records from 1,650 record sets and is continually growing! Please visit the Portal and provide feedback on its feel and features. If you are new to the portal, we recommend you visit the Learning Center first. The taxonomy backbone of the portal is now the same as that of GBIF, enabling iDigBio to provide improved indexing and searching within taxonomic fields. We have improved the portal user experience, enhancing the usability of the map, increasing information displayed on specimens and media, and adding additional search terms. However, the portal isn’t the only way to access data. If you want to develop applications or automated analysis pipelines, you can use our APIs or our Python or R packages.

Applications for Research & Education

iDigBio partnered with the University of Michigan’s collections to create the first Digital Data in Biodiversity Research Conference held in June 2017. Save the date, because the second annual Digital Data Conference will be held in Berkeley, California, June 4-6, 2018.

iDigBio has expanded our tracking of data use in publications to include both the iDigBio portal and other ADBC-related portals. To date, there have been over 500 publications with cited data from these portals. Along with revisionary studies and discovery of species, research topics explored in 2017 included the automated identification of specimens, timing of the next cicada outbreak in California, the role of protected areas in offering refuge from invasive species, educational uses of digitized collections, and speciation mechanisms and drivers of dispersal for Paleozoic taxa. Titles of ADBC-related publications from 2016-2017 are listed in the ADBC Summit VII Program. With the Integrating Collections and Ecological Research (ICER) working group, iDigBio is looking for ways to make it easier for the ecology and conservation communities to find and use collections data. You can find other interesting and diverse uses of natural history collections and their data for research in iDigBio’s monthly Research Spotlight, and we invite you to showcase your own biodiversity data research use story via the Spotlight in 2018. We are excited about the creative ways in which the data are being used and look forward to future innovations by the community!

iDigBio works to coordinate education and outreach activities among ADBC projects and promote the use of digital collections resources to a variety of audiences through the Education and Outreach Working Group. The E&O working group works collaboratively with other initiatives like BLUE (Biodiversity Literacy in Undergraduate Education), and Kurator on educational workshops, webinars, and symposia and to develop and share collections-based educational materials. Our public participation partner, WeDigBio, hosted the third annual Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections event where online citizen scientists participated from 20 countries and 33 US states completing 16,000 transcriptions.

iDigBio is reaching out broadly to scientific communities by hosting seminars and workshops and giving presentations at professional society meetings. iDigBio participated in many meetings in 2017, including Ecological Society of America, International Council on Museums, Entomological Society of America, and International Botanical Congress. iDigBio was honored this year by the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) with a Special Service Award at the SPNHC 2017 meeting.

Keep in Touch

We invite you to stay up-to-date with iDigBio in 2018 by visiting When visiting the website, be sure to monitor the constantly evolving Wiki for content specific to digitization and collections, read press releases for ADBC-related news, and view reports for summaries of past events and publications related to the iDigBio community. Visit the iDigBio Calendar to view the upcoming workshops, webinars, and other iDigBio-related events coming in 2018. Stay connected with iDigBio by “liking” the project’s Facebook page, following iDigBio on Twitter, visiting our Vimeo page, and subscribing to the e-newsletter. Anyone can join the conversation in one of the many topic-based working groups or listservs provided by iDigBio, and we invite you to submit a blog post or community announcement about your creation, discovery, or use of digitized biodiversity data.

Thanks to all who have contributed data to the portal, collaborated in a TCN, and/or participated in one of our events and webinars in 2017. iDigBio hopes everyone continues to be involved and has a fantastic and productive 2018!

Best Regards from the UF and FSU iDigBio Teams
Larry Page, Director