ICER and Conservation at ADBC Summit VII

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Ecology Groups from the Ecological Society of America
At ADBC Summit VII, the ICER Working Group (Integrating Collections and Ecological Research), along with BCoN, will present a half-day workshop centered around ecologists who incorporate collections data in their scientific research and sharing a potential model program for integrating collections data in conservation efforts. Speakers invited will give talks representing community examples of museum specimen data integrated with other biodiversity data to enhance and inform efforts to address key ecological questions and support conservation efforts.

In this workshop we intend to connect the collections community at ADBC Summit VII with the broader ecology community, and including the conservation community. Sustainability strategies for collections may include taking the opportunity to expand their respective stakeholders. Ecologists recognize the need for certain kinds of data to enhance their research now and in the future (Morrison SA, et al 2017 Outcomes of this session may include: 1) defining which groups of ecologists can use collections data now, which groups the data does not suit, and which groups the data might suit if modified / enhanced, 2) brainstorming with ecologists about where they look for data to make sure our collections data is published - along with suitable metadata - where they look, 3) discussing plans for a robust review of current data and asking what data might be collected in the future to make the data more useful to the ecologists of the future, 4) development of the conservation-collections vision (BCoN), 5) with which national and international collaborations can we align ourselves (GBIF, GBIF Norway, others?), 6) other topics as raised by the group present at the workshop.


The ICER working group, and specifically Larry Page, Deborah Paul, Libby Ellwood, and Chrissy Alba constructed the agenda for this workshop and incorporated input from Anna Monfils. We learned of the efforts of BCON and Anna about efforts to add the conservation community to our expanding stakeholders efforts.

More about ICER

The Integrating Collections and Ecological Research (ICER) Working Group is inspired by efforts to expand and enhance the community of those using collections data in their scientific research. Recent publications provide evidence the ecology community is calling for more robust and strategic connections between the ecology and collection communities. For example, iDigBio has collaborated at recent Ecological Society of America Conferences with the Natural History Section, and the Historical Records group.

The initial two main foci of ICER are to 1) figure out how best to insure ecologists know about existing collections data resources, 2) bring the two communities together to discuss suitability of the data captured from field specimen collection for ecologists. Other potential topics include: delineating which ecology groups can best use collections data (and which cannot), looking at what might be possible in the future to support ecologists vouchering specimens where appropriate, and working with collections and ecologists to design sustainable new standard practices for supporting ecologists as parties vested in supporting the existence of and need for collections.

Speakers at ICER and Conservation (BCoN) Workshop

  • David Tazik and Kate Thibault (NEON)
    • The NEON Biorepository: Vision and Status
Abstract: This presentation provides a brief overview and history of the NSF-funded NEON Project and our vision for and status of the NEON Biorepository. NEON has a long history dating to the late 1990's. Since then, it has progressed through the phases of design, construction and initial operations. Construction is nearly complete; full operations will begin in late 2019 and continue for 30 years. A key feature of NEON is establishment a curated collection of diverse aquatic and terrestrial samples and specimens gathered annually at 81 NEON sites across the US. The overarching goal of the biorepository is to make reference material and replicate samples available for future research and retrospective studies. To help achieve this goal, we are designing the biorepository to ensure efficiency, utility, discoverability, and timely sample processing – i.e., to be responsive to the needs of the scientific community. We plan to engage the community and foster broad use of the NEON samples via a biorepository technical working group and several related technical working groups, and by working with the ICER and similar initiatives.
Recording (time mark 1:55-17:40)
  • Jennifer McGuire (Georgia Tech)
    • Collections data as an historical experiment
Recording (time mark 19:54-35.22)
  • Anna K. Monfils, Central Michigan University; Rachel A. Hackett, Central Michigan University; Michael Belitz, Central Michigan University; Ed Gilbert, SEINet, Arizona State University; Gil Nelson, iDigBio, Florida State University; Mike J. Monfils, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Michigan State University Extension; Lillian Hendrick, Central Michigan University; Akito Y. Kawahara, LepNet, University of Florida; Neil S. Cobb, LepNet, Northern Arizona University; Christopher J. Marshall, LepNet, Oregon State University; Jennifer M. Zaspel, LepNet, Milwaukee Public Museum
    • Research and management applications of online collection data: a case study of prairie fen biodiversity
Abstract: Prairie fen wetlands are globally vulnerable wetlands, provide habitat for over 35 state and federally listed species, and function at the headwaters for several major watersheds in the Great Lakes. Since 2012, the Prairie Fen Biodiversity Project (PFBP) has collected biodiversity data and associated metadata in prairie fen communities to inform researchers, conservation biologists and managers about potential drivers of biodiversity in these diverse systems. One priority for PFBP has been to manage our biodiversity data digitally in support of research and management pipelines. We will show how we have integrated our research, data usage, and digitization workflows and how we assessed this as the project grows and incorporates insect biodiversity data. Annotated species checklists are now available through the Central Michigan University Collection on the Consortium of Midwest Herbaria portal ( The PFBP data and checklists have multiple potential uses and we anticipate that our PFBP can use the portal to add, update, or pool data in new ways as the collaboration grows and new tools become available. Online digitized data gives us unprecedented access to biodiversity data and facilitates data accessibility, current data updates, and a broader use of the specimen and research data both within our research team and with associated conservation and management partners.
  • Barry Sinervo (USCS EEB)
    • Predicting phenology, demography and extinction risk due to climate change from ecophysiology and museum records
Abstract: Standard species distribution models (SDM) use climate layers to determine a species "climate" niche and then project the species distribution to future time points as climate warms or dries, but such models do not take into account evolved physiological or ecological differences among species that might impact resistance to warm spells and / or long-term droughts. Here I will describe the relationships between climate layers and operative thermal and hydric environments for reptiles and amphibians. I use museum occurrence records linked to published ecological data to derive a general class of models that can be used in SDM which allow for evolved changes in phenology and physiology to be incorporated in the modeling. In addition, I will describe how other ecological interactions such as competition for thermal niches can be used to model the impact of climate driven extinctions of cool-adapted taxa (e.g., montane taxa) arising from the invasion of a warm-adapted competitor (e.g., lowland taxa) that might expand its range under climate warming. I apply the models to nearly all species of reptiles and diverse amphibians of North America.
Recording (time mark 19:23-35:43)
  • Elizabeth Martin (Doctoral student, University of Florida, School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE))
    • Preliminary Results on Survey about Reuse of Species Occurrence Data and Use of Web-based Information Systems by Professionals
Abstract: Understanding how academic and non-academic professionals conducting scientific research or working on natural resource activities use species occurrence data and Web-based information systems that provide such data is a prerequisite for assessing the effectiveness of Web-based biodiversity information systems in general. As part of my doctoral research project, I conducted an online survey of academic and non-academic professionals in the United States during spring/summer 2017 to gather baseline data and information on how scientists and natural resource professionals reuse species occurrence data and use Web-based species occurrence information systems in their work. Preliminary results from this survey will be presented at the workshop.
Recording (time mark 36:15-50:15)

Symposium Recordings

Integrating Collections, Ecological Research and Conservation - Half-day Symposium (Part1)
David Tazik (NEON) (recording time mark 1:55-17:40)
Jenny McGuire (Georgia Tech) (recording time mark 19:54-35.22)
Integrating Collections, Ecological Research and Conservation - Half-day Symposium (Part2)
Anna Monfils (CMU) (recording time mark 00:44-18:23)* no sound - slides only
Barry Sinervo (UCSC) (recording time mark 19:23-35:43)
Elizabeth Martin (UF) (recording time mark 36:15-50:15)

Some of our workshop goals

  • Formalize review and development steps for our 5-year plan
  • Construct a plan (with deadlines) to finish Use Case Review
    • Which ecology groups and conservation projects can effectively use existing natural science collections data? which cannot? which could if there were changes (what changes)?
  • Gather feedback on where ecologists look for data
    • Formalize steps to insure we are advertising our data in those places
  • Gather what we learn from breakout discussions following session talks
    • Synthesize next steps
    • How will we disseminate what we synthesize? (Post here on Wiki, for example)

Logistics to Join Conversation Remotely

ICER Documents in Progress

IF you need to have edit rights to the above Google documents, please contact dpaul (AT) fsu (DOT) edu

ICER Workshops and Related Activities

  • ICER participates in the Field to Collections Bioblitz at ESA 2017 (5 August 2017)
  • ICER at iDigBio Summit VII (2-3 November 2017) (this document)
  • ADBC Summit VII
  • Natural History Collections as Primary Data in Ecological Research is the iDigBio Research Spotlight post for October 2017 by ICER member, Christina Alba,PhD, Research Associate in Floristics and Richard Levy, MS, Database Associate Research & Conservation Department at Denver Botanic Gardens
    • Many of us in the ADBC world look for ways to expand the community of users of museum collections data and to increase the ways in which collections data are used. Recently, in Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TrEE), an opinion piece was published by Scott A. Morrison, et al. titled "Equipping the 22nd-Century Historical Ecologist." In this paper, Morrison, et al. envision gathering ecological data in a way that provides future researchers a lens to best understand today’s ecological communities—a proposition that requires a more integrated relationship between museum collections/collectors and ecologists. At iDigBio, we have a working group Integrating Collections and Ecological Research (ICER) that is exploring ways to strengthen the ties between these two groups. ICER reached out to working group member Christina (Chrissy) Alba, Research Associate at the Denver Botanic Gardens (DBG). Chrissy looped in the DBG reading group, which includes both collections and ecological staff, to discuss the paper, and she worked with Database Associate Rick Levy to write a response to the Morrison, et al. opinion piece. We present their response here, and look forward to community feedback.

Activities and Articles in Support of Ecology and Collections Collaboration


Working Group Meeting Place

iDigBio Research Resources