Plants of Southern Tennessee

Herbaria specimens are an important asset to many different fields of research. In this day and age, the need for a large, online database is growing. To create this database, specimens from herbaria have been digitized and uploaded into online platforms. However, to be able to utilize the online specimens in the database, crucial information such as locality string, habitat, collector, and date must be manually entered in. With the help of citizen scientists, growing online databases is accomplished much quicker and efficiently. 

This expedition will assist The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga undergraduate students Garrett Billings and Quinn Towery in completing the digitization process for the specimens in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s herbarium found within the southern counties of Tennessee and northern counties of Alabama. With your help in completing this expedition, Garrett and Quinn will be one step closer to understanding the floristic diversity of the region. Join forces and utilize this advancement in technology to further our building of online databases for herbarium specimens.  Ultimately, this information will be used by many more scientists and environmental workers for different research topics for in many different fields of work.

Please visit the Southeast Biodiversity Project and the Plants of Southern Tennessee expedition at try.

— Garrett Billings, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga


Ambush of Tiger Beetles

Yesterday we launched a new Notes from Nature Project related to beetles! The goal is to document the distribution of beetles in time and space, taking advantage of the data associated with millions of specimens in natural history collections. We’re kicking it off with Tiger beetles.

Tiger beetles are some of the most voracious and most beautiful beetles in the world. They are extremely fast creatures, so fast that the world is blur to them as they run. Many have brilliant metallic colors as adults, but others are exquisitely camouflaged to match their background, whether it be small pebbles on the soil or the dazzling whiteness of sands on the beach. The larvae are also predators, lying in wait in the soil before they suddenly explode from their burrow to impale an unlucky insect on their scimitar-like mouthparts. Some species of tiger beetles are common and widespread, but others are found only in small areas: the matching color patterns protect them in that habitat but make it difficult to spread far beyond it. Some of the smallest populations are federally listed as threatened or endangered species. The goal of this project is to document the distribution of tiger beetles to better understand where species are to be found and their intimate relationship with their environment.

If Tiger beetles interest you please give the expedition Ambush of Tiger Beetles a try!

— Luciana Musetti, Curator of the Triplehorn Insect Collection, The Ohio State University

OC – Are They In Need Of Correction? – Part II

We are excited to announce the next installment in our series of Digi-Leap expeditions. The Digi-Leap project is focused on developing workflows to accelerate specimen digitization and make the data broadly available to museums and stakeholders alike. These Notes from Nature expeditions directly support the development of these new Digi-Leap tools.

Thanks to everyone that classified and provided feedback on the beta test of OC – Are They In Need Of Correction? We got 29 formal responses and lots of other feedback via Talk. We’ve made some changes to the help text based on this feedback and plan to make some changes to the interface early next year.

In the meantime, we plan to continue with some smaller expeditions using the new text correction task to help us collect more data, do some additional testing and perhaps receive more feedback from all of you.

If you enjoyed the last text correction expedition or just want to try it out then head over to our Labs Project and give it a try!

– The Notes from Nature Team

Help uncover the Virginia Military Institute Herbarium, a collection with deep roots in the botanical history of the state.

Nearly a century ago, the Flora Committee of the Virginia Academy of Science designated the herbarium of the Virginia Military Institute (VMIL) as a depository for specimens collected by this group.  The group intended to create a flora of Virginia through extensive collecting and correspondence among botanists in the state. As a result, VMIL has many historically important specimens that document the Ridge & Valley flora of the 1920’s and 30’s, prior to the reintroduction of white-tail deer, impacts of invasive plants and land-use change in Virginia. The collection is also rich in specimens from decades before and after, as well as a surprising number of specimens collected from outside the state.

A pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) specimen from Virginia Military Institute Herbarium

A word of note about transcriptions on this expedition. Most of the labels are handwritten in cursive script, and the scientific names need transcription. As a result, a bit more time and care are required for each label than is typical for most Plants of Virginia expeditions. Your efforts are greatly appreciated in making these data useable for research.

Please try it out the Plants of Virginia: Treasures of the VMIL Herbarium and help us digitize this important historical collection!

WeDigBio 2022 Appreciation

We closed out the last day of WeDigBio with over 3,900 classifications. That puts Notes from Nature at over 13,000 for the entire event.

Thanks to all the voluntters, moderators, presenters and as always the Zooniverse team for keeping the system running behind the scenes. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to all the volunteers without whom we literally wouldn’t exist! Your contributions are critical and every classification is so important.

The good news is that Notes from Nature is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week, so if you enjoyed yourself please come back and consider spreading the word.

There are still lots of expeditions from a wide variety of organisms available on our site. 

— The Notes from Nature Team

8 hours left (WeDigBio 2022)

There is 8 hours left in WeDigBio 2022. Thanks to all that have contributed by hosting or attending events, worked on an expedition or helped spread the word about the importance of mobilizing biodiversity data. We had over 11,000 classifications completed so far.

We have lots of great content left at Notes from Nature and don’t forget to download the Zooniverse mobile app and give our mobile based expedition a try. You can find it listed under Biology, Nature or History.

— The Notes from Nature Team

WeDigBio 2022 – Day 2

Yesterday was a fun and productive day of WeDigBio. Notes from Nature has received over 7,000 classifications since the start of the event and we are exited to see all the activity.

A special shout out to friends in Arkansas that completed over 1,000 classifications during Day 2!

Clematis pitcheri (Purple Leatherflower) Photo: Theo Witsell

There are lots of expeditions to work on and we have another online talk later today. The talk is titled: County Floras in the Digital Age: Using Digital Specimen and Observation Records to Promote Biodiversity Conservation. See our previous post for more information and how to join.

– The Notes from Nature Team

WeDigBio 2022 – Day 1

It was an exciting first day or WeDigBio. Thanks for all the contributions, thoughts, questions and engagement!

Butterflies specimens in the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes (CNC)

We hope you are enjoying Day 2 so far. Remember to check out the special symposium on improving data quality October 14th, 12pm EST (UTC -5). More information and the link you join can be found in our previous post: WeDigBio Symposium: Improving Data Quality, Data Linkages, and Data Communities

Lastly, if you are interested in app based expeditions download the Zooniverse app and look for our special expedition under the category Nature.

— The Notes from Nature Team

Transcribing Canada’s Natural History Data

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada houses several of Canada’s national biological collections, including insects, plants, fungi, bacteria and nematodes. These biodiversity repositories help scientists explore problems in agriculture, biological control and pest management, study biodiversity and genetics and help inform policy makers working to protect Canada’s natural resources.

The largest two collections are the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes (CNC) and the National Collection of Vascular Plants (DAO), both in Ottawa, Canada. The CNC contains around 17 million specimens, while the DAO contains 1.5 million dried vascular plant specimens.

Butterflies specimens in the CNC.

Our summer students have helped us capture over 1.3 million images over the past five years. With your help, we can turn these images into digital data that will then be put online for researchers from all over the world to study.

 CNC Summer Students digitizing specimen label data.

The DAO launched their Notes from Nature expeditions starting in April 2022 and have digitized poplars, willows and various plant species. The CNC is now launching our first expedition to digitize some of the Bristle flies (Tachinidae) of the CNC, with several more expeditions in the works. All of our active expeditions can be found in the project: Digitizing Biological Collections in Canada.

Join us in exploring Canada’s biodiversity on Notes from Nature!

A bristle fly of the family Tachinidae.

— Michelle Locke, Senior Entomology Collection Technician at the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes.

WeDigBio starts tomorrow!

The Notes from Nature team is excited for the start of WeDigBio tomorrow! WeDigBio (Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections) is a global data campaign, virtual science festival, and local outreach opportunity all rolled into one. This 4-day, twice-a-year event mobilizes participants to create digital data about biodiversity specimens.

Notes from Nature is hosting lots of exciting expeditions featuring bees, moths, plants, moths, fleas, mites and more! Remember to complete 10 transcriptions to earn your WeDigBio 2022 badge.

Also, stay tuned for an announcement about a new Zooniverse mobile app based expedition.

There are events that you can attend online or in person. Be sure to check out a special Symposium on improving data quality which will take place on Friday.

— The Notes from Nature Team

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