SPNHC 2014 DemoCamp: Crowdsourcing in LBCC using Symbiota

TitleSPNHC 2014 DemoCamp: Crowdsourcing in LBCC using Symbiota
Publication TypePresentation
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsThiers, Barbara, Gilbert Edward, Gries Corinna, and Brandt Benjamin
KeywordsCitizen Science, crowdsourcing, Lichens Bryophyte and Climate Change (LBCC), OCR, optical character recognition, seamless integration, social networking, SPNHC 2014 DemoCamp, Symbiota, User Interface
Abstract The project ‘Lichens Bryophytes and Climate Change (LBCC)’ is funded by the NSF-Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections (ADBC) Thematic Collections Network (TCN) program and aims to digitize ca. 2.3 million North American lichen and bryophyte specimens from over 60 collections representing well over 90% of the remaining North American specimens from Canada, the United States and Mexico. In its third year of digitizing > 1.2 million lichen records are available at http://lichenportal.org and > 1.8 million bryophyte records at http://bryophyteportal.org. Digitization involved imaging the specimen labels and uploading them into the open source online collections management system ‘Symbiota’ (http://symbiota.org) where they become immediately available for transcription. The project was able to expand the already very sophisticated editing interface in Symbiota and developed functionality for citizen science to access the data. Employing the Drupal content management system, we developed simple querying tools in which volunteers can find specimens collected in a geographic area or taxonomic group of interest. The query utilizes information gathered from the label images via optical character recognition, presents the user with a set of records and forwards him/her to an abridged Symbiota screen for editing. In contrast to other citizen science interfaces that accomplish this task of transcribing information from an image, this approach allows the data to remain within the overall management framework, become available immediately, and do not have to be pulled out of the database and reintegrated later. This provides for seamless collaboration between volunteers, imagers, collections managers, and anyone interested in the data for research. In addition, this approach can take advantage of sophisticated quality control mechanism and search for duplicates already built into Symbiota, while not overwhelming the citizen scientist with the entire complexity of this system. The Drupal site allows for social networking among the volunteers and with the collections managers, plus posting of help specific for lichen and bryophyte labels. We will be demonstrating the functionality of the volunteer interface which can be access from http://lbcc.lichenportal.org and http://lbcc.bryophyteportal.org, as well as Symbiota’s editing interface.