WeDigBio Lite Day 4 Summary

Amazing! Notes from Nature received 9,815 classifications on day 4. This is our second biggest day ever. That brings the total to 30,640 for the event.

There are still many great expeditions to work on! Three are currently above 85% and could use some effort to help bring them to completion. Those are Field & Forest Plants Of Virginia II, Spring Trilliums, Lilies, And Irises – Spring Refresher and Calbug Leaf-Cutter Bees 17.

Thanks to all for making this another huge success.

— The Notes from Nature Team

WeDigBio Lite Day 3 Summary

Wow, another amazing day. Notes from Nature received 8,169 transcriptions on day 2. That is over 20,000 transcriptions in the last three days and we will have one more day to go for WeDigBio Lite.

We still have lot of great content for day 4. Many thanks to all that have participated!

— The Notes from Nature Team

Your Help Matters

We wanted to share this very important discovery that happen recently on Notes from Nature.

Your Help Matters: A Threatened Plant Discovery

A few quotes from the article:

Notes from Nature volunteers may not have known it at the time, but while they transcribed the label of this small and unassuming plant specimen, they were documenting a novel occurrence of a rare, threatened species.


By transcribing information from specimen labels, citizen scientists helped us rediscover this historical occurrence of the rare Phacelia mustelina. These data are critical for assessing the conservation status of this species; if we know where this plant grew historically, we can better know where it might likely still exist. Once we know where and how abundantly this species exists, we can determine whether it needs protection and how to effectively do so. If you ever wonder whether your help matters, remember the weasel phacelia. Bringing “dark data” to light can us help protect biodiversity on Earth.

WeDigBio Lite Day 2 Summary

WeDigBio Lite had another great day. NfN received 7,537 transcriptions on day 2. The shout out today goes to the New York Botanical Garden project that received 3,216 transcriptions yesterday.

As always we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to check in on NfN Talk with any thoughts or impressions you would like to share.

— The Notes from Nature Team

See no-see-ums Hawaii Expedition

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Calling all nature and science lovers. We need your help. If you enjoy learning about insects and museum collections, you can help researchers studying the biodiversity of parasites by transcribing specimens in the Bishop Museum Entomology Collection.

We are launching a new expedition to digitize our U.S. parasite collection starting with no-see-ums from Hawaii.  No-see-ums or “punkies” are tiny midges usually less than 3 mm wingspan. They are barely bigger than nothing, but their painful bite feels like a burning piece of ash. Hawaii has 8 native species in two genera: Dasyhelea and Forcipomyia. One native species of Forcipomyia rarely bites humans and other animals, but adults of most native species feed on pollen and nectar and are important pollinators, including some crop plants like cacao.

Eight alien species have been introduced into Hawaii by human trade. One recently established species, Culicoides jamaicensis belongs to a group of important human and veterinary pests and may become problematic in Hawaii.

Because of their small size, these midges are usually glued on paper points mounted on insect pins. Specimens in the Hawaiian insect collection include hundreds of important historic pinned specimens. They represent an important reference collection documenting the biting midge fauna of Hawaii.

Your participation in this expedition will not only be helping the Bishop Museum but will be assisting a larger community involving 22 museums and institutions that are working together to digitizing over a million parasite specimens. The Terrestrial Parasite Tracker project goals are to synthesize thousands of important arthropod records so that the specimens, and their associated data, will be available to help understand and predict the spread of human and wildlife disease.

Please join our virtual ohana of citizen scientists and help unlock valuable information about the diversity and distribution of these parasites making these data available to scientists across many disciplines.

You can find the new See no-see-ums Hawaii expedition in the Terrestrial Parasite Tracker Project.

— Jim Boone, Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawai‘i

WeDigBio Lite Day 1 Summary

WeDigBio Lite got off to an amazing start! NfN received 5,119 transcriptions on day 1. We’d love to hear about everyone’s experiences participating online. Feel free to check in on NfN Talk with any thoughts or impressions you would like to share.

We’d also like to send a special shout out to the volunteers and project team from Notes from Nature – Plants of Arkansas. That project contributed 1,540 transcriptions, which is 30% of yesterday’s total.

We are so grateful to each and every person who participated no matter which project or how many transcriptions you completed!

— The Notes from Nature Team



NYBG Globe Spotter


Every year, tens of thousands of new botanical collections make their way into the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium from every corner of the globe. Often arriving pressed between sheets of newspaper from their country of origin, these precious biological samples document everything from enormous rainforest trees to tiny wildflowers. When made accessible quickly to researchers online, these incoming collections represent a vital flow of new information about the state of the world’s plants and fungi.

Through our latest virtual expedition series, “NYBG Globe Spotter”, Notes from Nature participants can help rapidly connect scientists to biodiversity collections worldwide which are relevant to their field of interest. If you’ve participated before in our US State Spotter projects, you will recognize this streamlined workflow focusing on each subject’s geographic origin. In these new series of expeditions, you will travel virtually to nearly every continent on the planet as you search specimen labels for clues to identify the COUNTRY (or US State) where each organism was collected from its environment.

In response to mounting global crises, from public health to biodiversity loss, it is more important than ever to understand the multitude of connections that hold our living Earth together. Fortunately, by helping to uncover the latest botanical observations from around the world, you can directly support scientific research to investigate these planetary threads.

To get started, follow the link to our latest “NYBG Globe Spotter expedition on the Notes from Nature-NYBG project page.

Charles Zimmerman, New York Botanical Garden, William and Lynda Steere Herbarium

Zooniverse username: @czimmerman

Hop to it! With the new MI-Bug grasshopper expeditions

We are launching a new series of expeditions exploring the specimens located in the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Insect Collection. First up, grasshoppers! Grasshoppers are found around the world and some species can be found as close as your backyard.  Grasshoppers are often called ‘locusts’ and are an important part of the environment providing food for both animals and people alike. In some areas certain species can even be agricultural pests, as they like to eat the same plants we do. By rubbing their hind legs against their forewings, many male grasshoppers will also ‘sing’ to try and attract a mate – isn’t that sweet?

The grasshoppers you will be looking at as part of our MI-Bug project could be recently collected specimens, or they could be over a 100 years old as our collection started back in 1913 with some things collected even before then. They could also be from places as close by as Michigan or Wisconsin, or from more exotic places like the Amazon Rainforest or African savanna. With your help, these are some of the things we’re hoping to find out.

So, as we’re all cooped up in our houses for now, consider becoming a citizen scientist on MI-Bug project on the Notes from Nature website and help us discover more about the insects in our collection.

Thank you for your help!

— Erika Tucker, UMMZ Insect Collection Manager & Assistant Research Scientist

Help Study Parasite Biodiversity from Home

If you are sitting at home watching wildlife from your kitchen window, you are witnessing several levels of biodiversity that cannot be seen through binoculars. Birds and mammals are hosts to many different parasites that live amongst their fur and feathers such as: lice, fleas, flies, ticks and mites. Most of these parasites are restricted to a single host, but some of these parasitic arthropods can vector pathogens that affect humans (for example, prairie dog fleas transmit the pathogen that causes plague). Yet, data about parasitic arthropods are underrepresented among digitized museum specimens, which makes them hard to find and study. To solve this void, 22 museums and institutions in North America have teamed up to digitize data for over 1.2 million parasite specimens in the next three years, including Dr. Sarah Bush, in the School of Biological Sciences.


“We have a collection with over 80,000 parasites from around the world,” Bush says.  “There are slides from extinct birds, new species, and new genera hidden in our collection, we just need help determining what we have.”  To digitize specimens, Bush and colleagues have turned to a citizen science platform called Notes from Nature, where anyone, anywhere can go online and help transcribe data from historic microscope slides.  “Our goal is to better understand the distribution and evolution of parasite diversity” explains Bush.  “By digitizing data from existing specimens, we are hoping to understand where these parasites occur? What hosts these parasites infest? Which parasites are most likely to vector pathogens to humans, and whether their distribution has changed over time?”

Citizen scientists involved in this project get to peek through the parasite collection.  “You never know what you’re going to find”, says Bush, “the slides you see may be new species of parasites from your backyard, or they might be a parasite collected 100+ years ago in the far reaches of New Guinea.”  We may be stuck at home, but this is a way to explore new levels of biodiversity that can be shared and studied by new generations of biologists.

If you are interested in helping with this citizen science project visit the “Terrestrial Parasite Tracker” project on the Notes from Nature website.

— The Terrestrial Parasite Tracker Team

Gray Matter: North American Geometrid Moths

We are launching a series of Expeditions called Gray Matter: North American Geometrid Moths! In this new expedition you will see multiple species and genera of North American Geometridae. This collection was curated by one of the North American experts, Dr. Charlie Covell.

The name Geometridae is derived from the Greek words “geo” (earth) and “metron” (measure). The caterpillar appears to ‘measure the ground’ as it moves, like a tiny walking tape measure, one inch at a time hence the name “inchworm”. Although the adult moths are often gray, and less colorful than their butterfly counterparts, they are widespread moths that are ecologically and economically important. Some Geometridae, such as cankerworms, are destructive pests of hardwood trees. Biston betularia moths (included in this expedition), have light and dark wing phenotypes, which have been used to study effects of industrial pollution. Their caterpillars also have multiple phenotypes; they can mimic different colors of twigs in order to more effectively camouflage on their host plants.

It is important to remember that you will be looking at two images per moth, dorsal and ventral. The reason for this is because there sometimes is critical information on the back of labels. So be sure to check both images! While checking both images, look at the amazing shapes and minute coloration of the moth. Thank you so much for your help!

— Laurel Kaminsky

Digitalization Coordinator, McGuire Center for Lepidoptera & Biodiversity

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