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WeDigBio 2018

November 17, 2018

This post is brought to you by Morgan Gilbert.  Morgan is a senior at NC State and is majoring in Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation Biology with a Wildlife concentration.  She is interning for the Citizen Science Unit at Prairie Ridge this semester.  Thanks, Morgan!


A WeDigBio participant learns about CitSciScribe, the Museum’s data transcription citizen science project, from fish collections manager Gabriela Hogue.

WeDigBio is a citizen science event that collaborates with the public to transcribe data labels of biological specimens and event information into online databanks.  Once transcribed, this digitized data then becomes readily available to scientists and the public, allowing everyone access to information all around the globe. The information being digitized focuses primarily on specimen samples, such as fish in jars, pinned insects, pressed plants, and fossils.  Another common focus is on dragonfly swarm appearances, which involves the location, how many were seen, what time of day, what the weather conditions were during the swarm, information on surroundings, and who collected the data. These labels can be very intensive depending on the focal point.

WeDigBio was launched in 2015 by a group of representatives from iDigBio, Florida State University, University of Florida, the Australian Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, and Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle. These representatives realized the importance of involving the public to make things happen faster and more efficiently, while also promoting awareness and research.  With this focus, they created a global effort that allowed anyone to log in to a website and then transcribe however much they want.

Originally it was difficult for museums, universities and collectors to provide information on the vast amounts of specimens and information they harbored.  Scientists would have to check in with the manager for each collection they needed information from and wait until they received word back. It also took time to search through the files to find the specific creatures needed.  Then they had to process the specimen and make sure it was ready to travel. Just finding the information added on to the amount of time it took to process the specimen, which could take days up to months depending on where the specimen needed to be sent.  Thanks to WeDigBio, information on specimens is now readily available to scientists and researchers all around the world.

Now, each year during a four-day event, hundreds of people around the world join in and work on transcribing as much as possible.  Just this year, over 43,000 specimens have been transcribed to digital. That is quite a lot, but there are still many more to be worked on.  At these events, a few scientists involved with the collections will show up and speak to the attendees about what they do with the collections and some of the current research being done with the help of the specimens.  This aids to the growing interest and creates an increasing need for more information.

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