SCAN TCN Kick-Off Meeting


Compiled from notes in the field from Deb Paul, iDigBio Digitization Expert:

The Southwest Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN): A Model for Collections Digitization to Promote Taxonomic and Ecological Research kickoff meeting was held at Arizona State University on August 15-16, 2012. 

During this meeting, Neil S. Cobb gave an overview of the SCAN project goals. The two main long term goals are:

  • to provide e-identifications
  • to provide a coherent georeferenced dataset

Neil's talk included an outline of steps in the SCAN plan of action:

  1. Organize and curate collections before cataloging (databasing).
  2. One important, desired outcome from the SCAN project is to develop a sustainable digitization practice model. Neil noted that, with the funding SCAN was given, they will be able to catalogue about 6% of the collection. Developing a sustainable model would benefit this and future projects, and result in more specimens in the database.
  3. SCAN plans to adopt and encourage the broader use of virtual collaboration tools (a la Skype and AdobeConnect) to promote and facilitate collaboration.
  4. SCAN hopes to increase the rate of identification -- Neil shared that often their arthropod collections are identified only to morphospecies or family.
  5. Related to #4, SCAN would like to increase the rate of taxonomic updating and annotations.
  6. SCAN hopes to foster systematic research. If one student per year, over ten years, chooses to become a systematist as a result of the SCAN project, that would be ten new systematists and a great result! 
  7. Ecology - Species distribution modeling with insects is sometimes inherently difficult because the occurrence data is missing. SCAN would like to begin to correct that.
  8. Historical ecology - This information could be us tremendous use to members of the network. For example, occurrence data from older specimens can inform those asking questions about land use changes and climate change.

What SCAN TCN has already accomplished in 1.5 months:

  1. SCAN has an icon and two dedicated websites. One site is informative, the other is a Symbiota portal hosted at iDigBio.
  2. A schema to share data for Specify 6 and Symbiota is complete and 9 out of 10 SCAN collection members already have their data in the portal. The Filtered Push project is working on the next version; as part of the day's activities Filtered Push representatives demonstrated how it works with Symbiota and Specify.
  3. More than 30 videos are now up at YouTube for training purposes for SCAN. Video images were captured using Zoomify so that zooming is excellent. With this combination of media and technology, it is hoped that SCAN will ultimately be able to act as an on-line Southwest Bug Guide.
  4. SCAN has some 5 TB of storage set up for those SCAN members who don't have storage space.
  5. Some members of SCAN are also active members of some iDigBio Working Groups - for example, Paul Heinrich and the iDigBio Georeferencing Working Group.
  6. SCAN is working actively with the TTD-TCN to use existing taxon authority files.
  7. Georeferencing is a major goal of the SCAN TCN. SCAN is sending two graduate students to the georeferencing workshop to be trained to teach others for their TCN. Neil would like to see development of standardized georeferencing training so that workers have more confidence in georeferenced data and know how the values came to be.
  8. Neil plans to submit two PEN proposals before October.

Following Neil were presentations by the teams from Filtered Push (Paul Morris), Specify (Rod Spears) and Symbiota (Ed Gilbert) describing their work and giving live demonstrations.

Gil Nelson of iDigBio provided an overview of iDigBio, including iDigBio coordination with SCAN, and addressed iDigBio's data model, the development of authority files, and plans for data ingestion. He also addressed questions about digitization plans and practices. As part of Gil's presentation, the last topic of the day included a discussion of "iDigBio Groups."

Evening activities included a visit to the museum, an 'id' blitz (as part of the SCAN plan of action #1) and a nightlighting excursion.