On June 3-6, 2018, I attended the Second Annual Digital Data in Biodiversity Research Conference, which brought together a complex culture of individuals who share a common mission of providing natural history data to the world. The attendees ranged from collection managers, curators, IT specialists, academic researchers, to funders. These 'modern naturalists' are obsessed with data and arming themselves to use this data to fight for our planet.
Natural history data is broad in scope and can range from species occurrence data to environmental measurements to basically any data that describes how organisms interact with each other and their environment. Natural history museums sit in a central position within this community because they have been collecting and carefully storing plant, animal, fungi, bacteria, insects, etc., specimens in their collections for hundreds of years. These animals are vouchered – meaning, at a minimum, hopefully each specimen has a species ID, location and time collected. These vouchered organisms, in my opinion, are the heart of this community and often act as an anchor for other types of data.
I made it my mission to talk to as many people I could in an attempt to understand the backgrounds, motivations, and challenges of this community.
Read Ciera's full account on her blog, posted here:
Meeting the Modern Naturalists at the Digital Data in Biodiversity Conference
June 18, 2018 | Ciera Martinez | Cabinet of Curiosity
Image from a tour of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at Berkeley.