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Jonathan McLatchie

An Evaluation of the Utility of Crowd Sourcing in Species Biodiversity Management

Jonathan McLatchie (B.Sc, M.Res)

October, 2012

Jonathan McLatchie

Abstract
In light of growing threats to species diversity from causes such as climate change and habitat destruction by humans, it has become increasingly important to have readily accessible information on species diversity and biogeographical distribution. The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is an online database of information on global species distribution, primarily derived from museum data collections. The age of digital photography has brought with it the ability to geo-tag image locations for photographs taken of wildlife. Crowd sourcing has become a topical issue in recent years, and has been implemented successfully in other disciplines to obtain valuable information (Eiben et al., 2012; Raddick et al., 2010). Using Overlap, a computer script written for the purpose of determining the degree of overlap between biodiversity data contained on GBIF and Flickr, the present paper attempts to determine the potential utility of online image sharing facilities such as Flickr for improving our knowledge of biodiversity and species distributions. Twenty of the worlds most endangered species are selected for analysis, and potential drawbacks of using such facilities are considered. To determine the extent to which the presence of animals in wildlife parks and zoos is responsible for incongruity between GBIF and Flickr, and the presence of animals well outside their natural habitats, the analysis was repeated for eleven less interesting organisms including species of fungi, insects and crabs. To evaluate the potential bias against species which live in undeveloped regions of the world (where digital photography is less common), a heat map of geo-tagging activity across the globe was produced. Results indicate the need for measures to limit the input of error and for identifying and correcting erroneous records.

Jonathan McLatchie

Contents
1. Introduction 1.1 The importance of museum collections 1.2 Biodiversity Informatics and the World Wide Web 1.3 Geo-tagging 1.4 The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) 1.5 The Potential Utility of Crowd Sourcing 1.6 Aims and Objectives 2. Materials and Methods 2.1 Flickr 2.2 Overlap 2.3 Procedure 3. Results 3.1 Overlap maps for 20 most endangered species 3.2 Overlap maps for less interesting species. 3.3 Global geo-tagging activity 3.4 Tourism Heat Maps 4. Discussion 4.1 Explaining Unexpected Taxa Distributions 4.2 Is There a Bias Against Under-Developed Regions of the World? 4.3 Is There a Bias Against Regions with Low Tourist Interest? 4.4 The Way Forward 4.5 Conclusion Literature Cited

Jonathan McLatchie

1. Introduction
In order for ecosystems to maintain the provision of sustainable life-support services (such as access to clean water, food security, and resilience to natural disasters), it is important that the species specific to different ecosystems, and the abundance of each species, are known. Human activity is presently one of the primary threats to biodiversity on a global scale. For purposes of ecosystem monitoring and risk assessment, there is thus a need for data collection and its ready accessibility in a globally-available and integrated infrastructure. This has led to a widespread effort to ensure the digitisation of museum and herbarium biodiversity data (Shaffer et al, 1998).

1.1 The Importance of Museum Collections Museums and academic institutions are home to extensive collections of biological samples, often spanning from prehistoric times to the present day. Such data collection contributes to scientific fields such as conservation biology and systematics, in addition to securing agricultural and natural resources. For a taxonomic revision, the standard practice for many plant and animal groups is to utilize museum specimens from the worlds natural history collections. Taxonomists routinely record the data on specimen labels for purposes of producing distribution maps and locality lists.

The need to maintain extensive collections has recently become more urgent than ever before, and museum sample collections have provided crucial information, and informed predictions about the future, relating to the impact of habitat loss and global climate change on species biodiversity. For example, in the mid-western United States, samples from 18 different museums were used to demonstrate that the consequence of prairie habitat loss was a decline of small mammals that depend on this habitat for their survival (Pergams and Nyberg, 2001).

The storage and maintenance of museum collections confer economic benefits inasmuch as they provide centralized and readily accessible information storage.

The maintenance of public health and safety is another major benefit of such biodiversity data, most notably in those cases where emerging pathogen strains are compared with samples of known bacteria and viruses. Museum data has been used in elucidating pathogen distributions
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and ecological impact (Davies et al., 1999, Fonseca et al., 2001). Indeed, museum collections were used in one study to elucidate in detail the spatial migration patterns of the Argentine ant Linepithema humile in America over the last century (Suarez et al., 2001).

The availability of biodiversity data on taxa and the capabilities of analytical and computational tools to utilize this information are rapidly increasing. Developments in methodology for information storage and retrieval render such data increasingly applicable to environmental protection and conservation efforts.

Although museum collection data has been utilized in a number of studies for purposes of determining areas of conservation importance and mapping species distribution, relatively few studies have sought to evaluate the completeness or address the shortcomings of this data. Previous work has, however, addressed the problem of under-sampling (Colwell and Coddington, 1994). It has also been documented that apparent centers of endemism show significant correlation with sampling effort (Nelson et al., 1990), though techniques have been introduced to correct for collecting intensity when quantitatively assessing the number of species in a geographical region.

1.2 Biodiversity Informatics and the World Wide Web With the advent and growing accessibility of the internet, the last decade or two has seen a revolution in the way in which global biodiversity data is stored and processed, as systems are developed to facilitate interoperability and the integration of information across a range of local databases (Bisby, 2000). Examples of such systems include Species 2000 and, the focus of the present study, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) (Edwards et al., 2000). Using Flickr, in addition to the social networking site Facebook, a previous study set out to assess whether it is possible to obtain accurate data on bee distribution across the UK from photographic records submitted by untrained members of the public, and if these data are in sufficient quantity for ecological studies, (Stafford et al., 2010). It was found that only 59% of photographs were uploaded with the appropriate information such as location information. It was also found that species identification, most notably of the buff tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) and the white-tailed bumblebee (Bombus locorum) where the characteristic
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distinguishing feature lies at the end of the abdomen which is not always clearly visible, is not always possible.

1.3 Geo-tagging Geo-tagging allows geographical identification metadata, usually in the form of latitude and longitude coordinates, to be associated with a photograph. GPS information may be captured at the time of taking the photo, using a digital camera, or the location information may be appended to the picture after it has been taken.

1.4 The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is presently the largest data portal for information on global species biodiversity. Since 2004, the intergovernmental organisation GBIF has offered ready access to a comprehensive compilation of information from databases of museum collections and biological surveys. Their stated mission is to provide an internet accessible, interoperable network of biodiversity databases and information technology tools and to make the worlds biodiversity data freely and universally available via the Internet. Currently, GBIF obtains data from 379 publishers that provide more than 321 million records (http://www.gbif.org/ accessed 14th May 2012). Some of the taxa reported on by GBIF enjoy a wide coverage, whereas others are more poorly covered or are completely absent altogether. For example, GBIF completely lacks biogeographical information on the distribution of Uncia uncial (snow leopard) and Gorilla beringei beringei (Mountain Gorilla) whereas the distribution of Balaenoptera musculus (Blue Whale) and Ursus maritimus (Polar Bear) is much more extensively catalogued.

With the increasing need for ready access to robust biodiversity data it has become more and more necessary to ensure the spatial accuracy of the collection records stored in GBIF and whether they reliably reflect the actual taxa distribution. Of note, it is of interest to determine whether taxa that are represented by only a small number of records are, in fact, globally widespread but rare or are geographically restricted. An evaluation of the robustness and accuracy of biodiversity data will be crucial to our ability to utilise this information to inform conservation planning.
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Previous work has sought to elucidate the geographical plausibility of the global point data provided by GBIF (Yesson et al., 2007), in addition to the geographical biases inherent in the data and the extent to which it is feasible to nomenclaturally validate these data by utilising the International Legume Database & Information Service (ILDIS), a database that provides distribution data for the twenty thousand species of the flowering plant family Leguminosae. The study concluded that GBIF was generally accurate, with 84% of the data meeting their criteria. Museum specimen data has also been used to create ecological niche models and thus make predictions regarding the distribution of rodent pest species, showing that crop damage is related significantly to the predicted presence of rodent species for seven of nine crops, (Sanchez-Cordero and Martinez-Meyer, 2000).

1.5 The Potential Utility of Crowd Sourcing Among the shortcomings of GBIF are its uneven coverage and its reliance upon museum collections for acquisition of data. Crowd sourcing has been used successfully in several scientific disciplines, such as Galaxy Zoo (Raddick et al., 2010) and FoldIt (Eiben et al., 2012). Advantages of crowd-sourcing include the fact that it doesnt cost money that would be spent on paid labour by professional employees. Crowd sourcing also has the potential to raise interest in biodiversity issues.

Photographs of wildlife, captured with GPS-enabled cameras, are posted by the public on internet social networking sites and blogs. Publically accessible images are available through such sites numbering literally in the billions. These images are often annotated with information such as geolocation and species name.

Previous work has developed methods of identifying the location at which a photo was captured based on its content (Hays and Efros, 2008). This was taken further in a subsequent study which set out to use location estimation as an experimental paradigm for investigating questions about the relative value of image features and text tags in estimating location, (Crandall et al., 2009). There has also been recent work done on searching a collection of landmark images, using features such as geolocation, image content and text tags (Kennedy and Naaman, 2008). This
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study introduced methodologies for the analysis of a global collection of geo-tagged photos, including techniques for predicting locations of these photos. These new methods were evaluated on approximately 35 million Flickr photos. It is suggested that these geo-classification techniques could allow photo management systems like Flickr to automatically suggest geotags, significantly reducing the labour involved in adding geolocation annotations.

Since GPS-enabled geo-tagging allows pictures to be associated with geographical information, the potential of this resource to provide data on species distributions is significant. Indeed, the photo sharing site Flickr which is home to thousands of wildlife pictures captured and geotagged on GPS-enabled cameras has recently been of value in the identification of a new species. In May 2011, entomologists Shaun Winterton (of the California State Collection of Arthropods at the California Department of Food) and Shaun Agriculture identified a previously unknown species, later named Semachrysa jade, while browsing the internet (Winterton et al., 2012). This incident illustrates the power of image crowd sourcing. Although the image was taken by a photographer in distant Malaysia who did not have the expertise to identify it as a new species, Winterton, based in California, had the necessary knowledge and ability.

There is increasingly an opportunity for the general public, with interests in the natural sciences, either knowingly or unknowingly, to work together with professional taxonomists. The rapid advances and development of digital photographic technology, will enable professional and amateur photographers to develop and informally document new species. Where the specimen is not collected, the vouchering of the discovery awaits a specimen to enable the formal descriptive process and type designation. 1.6 Aims and Objectives The purpose of the present paper is to compare the phylogeographic spread of biodiversity data according to GBIF and Flickr using computer software. In so doing, the utility of Flickr in supplementing distributional data can be assessed. Possible reasons for incongruity of the data recorded by those two systems are discussed. The study seeks to thereby quantitatively evaluate the accuracy of our knowledge of species distributions and the utility of Flickr in supplementing distributional data.

Jonathan McLatchie

2. Materials & Methods


2.1 Flickr Flickr is self-defined as an online image sharing community, and was originally launched by Stewart Butterfield as a support facility for online gaming.

Flickr facilitates the storage of geo-tagging data, which is normally captured automatically with GPS-enabled digital cameras. Flickr users are able to assign tags to images of their own and other people for ease of organisation and retrieval. This facility has been available since 2006. Geo-tagged images can subsequently be downloaded in kml format compatible with Google Earth, making it a valuable resource for gathering biodiversity data.

2.2 Overlap Overlap (http://www.iphylo.org/~rpage/phyloinformatics/overlap/) is a computer script, written by Roderic Page for the purpose of comparing the biodiversity information recorded in GBIF with that generated by photography stored on Flickr. Overlap calls web services provided by Flickr and GBIF. The user gives these services the name of an organism and the services return information on the geographical distribution of that organism. Overlap produces a report on the degree of geographical overlap between GBIF and Flickr for a specified taxon, generating two maps, representing the biogeographic spread according to GBIF and Flickr respectively. To make this comparison, overlap converts the point localities into squares and determines the number of squares (csquares) that are common to the two sets of data. The csquare size can be adjusted to improve the accuracy of the overlap report.

2.3 Procedure Since a robust knowledge of taxon distributions is of highest importance in the case of endangered species, this study set out to evaluate GBIFs data on species distributions for 20 of the most endangered taxa globally. Selected taxa included the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), snow leopard (Uncia uncia), vaquita (Phocoena sinus), tiger (Panthera tigris), giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), Asian wild dog (Cuon alpines), green-cheeked parrot (Amazona viridigenalis), blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), mountain
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gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei), white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), mountain gazelle (Gazella gazelle), komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), Malayan tapir (Tapirus Indicus), African forest turtle (Heosemys depressa), polar bear (Ursus maritimus), African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), California condor (Gymnogyps californianus), bonobo (Pan paniscus) and crested ibis (Nipponia Nippon). Species names were entered into Overlap (csquare size 1010) to generate distribution maps for both GBIF and Flickr, as well as an overlap report. The number of GBIF 1010 squares with records, the number of geo-tagged photos on Flickr, the number of csquares covered by GBIF and Flickr, and the degree of overlap were noted.

Three potential shortcomings of Flickr as a source of information on species distributions are (1) the possible bias against species which live in undeveloped regions of the world where digital photography is significantly less frequent; (2) the possible bias against species which are present in regions with lower levels of tourist interest; and (3) the presence of animals in wildlife parks and zoos, meaning that many of the photos on Flickr represent organisms that are outside of their natural range. In order to determine the significance of the first shortcoming, a computer script, written by Roderic Page, was used to extract metadata for pictures from the Encyclopaedia of Lifes Flickr pool (http://www.flickr.com/groups/encyclopedia_of_life/pool/) and, based on the latitudinal and longitudinal co-ordinates, create a map displaying the locations of geo-tagged photos. The script aggregated the data points into 11 squares and generated a GBIF-style map. The PHP code for retrieving the picture data and generating the map is accessible via github (https://github.com/rdmpage/flickreolmap).

To determine the extent to which there exists a bias against species which exist in regions with low tourist interest, a global tourism heat map was obtained from the web in the form of a kml file for viewing on Google Earth (http://www.bluemoon.ee/~ahti/touristiness-map/). The script used to generate this heat map(http://www.bluemoon.ee/~ahti/touristiness-map/build_map.py) is based on analysis of images on Panoramio (http://www.panoramio.com/).

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To test the significance of the third shortcoming, the procedure was repeated for species groups which are unlikely to be found in zoos and wildlife parks. These groups include higher order animals such as foxes, as well as species of insects, crabs and fungi. The species involved were the crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous), the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), common morel fungi (Morchella esculenta), shaggy ink cap fungi (Coprinus comatus), smooth ink cap fungi (Coprinus atramentarius), shore crab (Carcinus maenas), edible crab (Cancer pagurus), common spider crab (Maja squinado), mosquito (Anopheles quadrimaculatus), common house spider (Achaearanea tepidariorum) and the emperor dragonfly (Anax imperator).

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3. Results
3.1 Overlap maps for 20 most endangered species

Figure 1: Overlap maps showing distribution of Diceros bicornis (black rhinoceros) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 17 csquares; Flickr has records from 8 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 3.

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Figure 2: Overlap maps showing distribution of Uncia uncial (Snow Leopard) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 0 csquares; Flickr has records from 1 csquare. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 0.

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Figure 3: Overlap maps showing distribution of Phocoena sinus (Vaquita) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 1 csquares; Flickr has records from 0 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 0.

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Figure 4: Overlap maps showing distribution of Panthera tigris (Tiger) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 20 csquares; Flickr has records from 9 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 1.

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Figure 5: Overlap maps showing distribution of Ailuropoda melanoleuca (Giant Panda) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 4 csquares; Flickr has records from 6 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 1.

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Figure 6: Overlap maps showing distribution of Gavialis gangeticus (Gharial) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 1 csquare; Flickr has records from 5 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 1.

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Figure 7: Overlap maps showing distribution of Cuon alpinus (Asian Wild Dog) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 13 csquares; Flickr has records from 10 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 4.

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Figure 8: Overlap maps showing distribution of Amazona viridigenalis (Green-Cheeked Parrot) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 10 csquares; Flickr has records from 4 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 2.

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Figure 9: Overlap maps showing distribution of Balaenoptera musculus (Blue Whale) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 83 csquares; Flickr has records from 6 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 4.

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Figure 10: Overlap maps showing distribution of Gorilla beringei beringei (Mountain Gorilla) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 0 csquares; Flickr has records from 1 csquare. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 0.

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Figure 11: Overlap maps showing distribution of Ceratotherium simum (White Rhinoceros) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 15 csquares; Flickr has records from 7 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 3.

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Figure 12: Overlap maps showing distribution of Gazella gazella (Mountain Gazelle) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 8 csquares; Flickr has records from 3 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 2.

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Figure 13: Overlap maps showing distribution of Varanus komodoensis (Komodo dragon) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 1 csquare; Flickr has records from 7 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 1.

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Figure 14: Overlap maps showing distribution of Tapirus Indicus (Malayan Tapir) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 5 csquares; Flickr has records from 8 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 0.

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Figure 15: Overlap maps showing distribution of Heosemys depressa (Arakan Forest Turtle) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 0 csquares; Flickr has records from 1 csquare. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 0.

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Figure 16: Overlap maps showing distribution of Ursus maritimus (Polar Bear) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 45 csquares; Flickr has records from 5 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 4.

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Figure 17: Overlap maps showing distribution of Lycaon pictus (African Wild Dog) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 9 csquares; Flickr has records from 5 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 1.

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Figure 18: Overlap maps showing distribution of Gymnogyps californianus (California Condor) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 3 csquares; Flickr has records from 2 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 2.

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Figure 19: Overlap maps showing distribution of Pan paniscus (Bonobo) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 2 csquares; Flickr has records from 5 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 1.

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Figure 20: Overlap maps showing distribution of Nipponia Nippon (Crested Ibis) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 2 csquares; Flickr has records from 1 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 0.

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Table 1: Comparison of Biodiversity Data from GBIF and Flickr


Taxa Number of GBIF 1010 Squares with Records 55 0 4 29 8 Number of Geotagged Photos on Flickr 20 2 0 20 20 Number of csquares covered (GBIF) 17 0 1 20 4 Number of csquares covered (Flickr) 8 1 0 9 6 Overlap Percentage of Flickr csquares that overlap with GBIF csquares 37.5% 0% 0% 11.1% 16.7%

Diceros bicornis (Black Rhinoceros) Uncia uncial (Snow Leopard) Phocoena sinus (Vaquita) Panthera tigris (Tiger) Ailuropoda melanoleuca (Giant Panda) Gavialis gangeticus (Gharial) Cuon alpinus (Asian Wild Dog) Amazona viridigenalis (GreenCheeked Parrot) Balaenoptera musculus (Blue Whale) Gorilla beringei beringei (Mountain Gorilla) Ceratotherium simum (White Rhinoceros) Gazella gazella (Mountain Gazelle) Varanus komodoensis (Komodo Dragon) Tapirus Indicus (Malayan Tapir) Heosemys depressa (Arakan Forest Turtle) Ursus maritimus (Polar Bear) Lycaon pictus (African Wild Dog) Gymnogyps californianus (California Condor) Pan paniscus (Bonobo) Nipponia Nippon (Crested Ibis)

3 0 0 1 1

1 20 48

20 20 20

1 13 10

5 10 4

1 4 2

20% 40% 50%

490

20

83

66.7%

20

0%

40

20

15

42.9%

19 1

14 20

8 1

3 7

2 1

66.7% 14.2%

7 0

20 1

5 0

8 1

0 0

0% 0%

146 30 30

20 20 20

45 9 3

5 5 2

4 1 2

80% 20% 100%

2 2

20 1

2 2

5 1

1 0

20% 0%

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Table 2: Comparison of species natural habitats with observed distributions


Species Diceros bicornis (Black Rhinoceros) Uncia uncial (Snow Leopard) Natural Habitat South, East and West Africa Afghanistan, Bhutan, Tibet, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan. Gulf of California From India to China and Southeast Asia Central-western and southwestern China India and Nepal India Across the lowlands of northeastern Mexico North Pacific, North Atlantic Observed Distribution (GBIF) Continental Europe, Asia & Far East. None Observed Distributions (Flickr) North America, Continental Europe, India and Far East. Eastern coast of USA.

Phocoena sinus (Vaquita) Panthera tigris (Tiger) Ailuropoda melanoleuca (Giant Panda) Gavialis gangeticus (Gharial) Cuon alpinus (Asian Wild Dog) Amazona viridigenalis (Green-Cheeked Parrot) Balaenoptera musculus (Blue Whale)

Gulf of California Alaska, North America, Asia & Far East. China Burma. Continental Europe, India, China& Asia. North America, Central America and North Pacific Islands Coastal areas in North America, South America, Arctic, Antarctica, Australia, South Africa, Middle East and Japan. None

None North America, Europe, Middle East and India. North America, Western Europe, China & Australia. Caribbean, Continental Europe, India, Nepal & Burma. USA, Europe, Morocco, India, Pakistan & Japan. North America, Central America. East Coast of USA, Greenland, North Europe, India and Japan.

Gorilla beringei beringei (Mountain Gorilla)

Ceratotherium simum (White Rhinoceros) Gazella gazella (Mountain Gazelle) Varanus komodoensis (Komodo dragon) Tapirus Indicus (Malayan Tapir) Heosemys depressa (Arakan Forest Turtle) Ursus maritimus (Polar Bear) Lycaon pictus (African Wild Dog) Gymnogyps californianus (California Condor)

Central Africa, southwest Uganda, north-west Rwanda, eastern republic of Congo South Africa

Central Africa

Northern Africa, Eastern Africa, South Africa & Central Americas None. None

Arabian Peninsula Indonesian Islands

Central America, Western Europe, Eastern and Southern Africa. Middle East. Central America, Western Europe, Indonesia & Philippines Central America, Western Europe and South Australia. USA North America & Western Europe. Western Europe & South East Africa. West Coast of USA.

East Indies Arkan hills of western Myanmar Arctic Circle Africa

Central America, Argentina, Indonesia and Philippines None. Arctic Circle, Alaska, Europe and Indian Ocean. USA, Eastern and Southern Africa. West Coast of USA.

Pan paniscus (Bonobo) Nipponia Nippon (Crested Ibis)

Northern Arizona and southern Utah, coastal mountains of central and southern California and northern Baja California. Congo in central Africa Shaanxi province of China

USA & Central Africa. China & Korea

USA and Western Europe. Japan

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3.2 Overlap maps for less interesting species

Figure 21: Overlap maps showing distribution of Cerdocyon thous (crab-eating fox) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 16 csquares; Flickr has records from 6 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 5.

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Figure 22: Overlap maps showing distribution of Oryctolagus cuniculus (European rabbit) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 53 csquares; Flickr has records from 4 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 4.

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Figure 23: Overlap maps showing distribution of Morchella esculenta (common morel fungi) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 27 csquares; Flickr has records from 8 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 6.

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Figure 24: Overlap maps showing distribution of Coprinus comatus (Shaggy ink-cap fungi) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 27 csquares; Flickr has records from 6 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 5.

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Figure 25: Overlap maps showing distribution of Coprinus atramentarius (smooth inkcap fungi) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 23 csquares; Flickr has records from 6 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 3.

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Figure 26: Overlap maps showing distribution of Carcinus maenas (shore crab) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 31 csquares; Flickr has records from 6 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 5.

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Figure 27: Overlap maps showing distribution of Cancer pagurus (edible crab) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 14 csquares; Flickr has records from 5 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 5.

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Figure 28: Overlap maps showing distribution of Maja squinado (common spider crab) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 14 csquares; Flickr has records from 4 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 4.

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Figure 29: Overlap maps showing distribution of Anopheles quadrimaculatus (mosquito) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 9 csquares; Flickr has records from 1 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 1.

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Figure 30: Overlap maps showing distribution of Achaearanea tepidariorum (common house spider) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 13 csquares; Flickr has records from 6 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 2.

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Figure 31: Overlap maps showing distribution of Anax imperator (emperor dragonfly) species for GBIF (A) and Flickr (B). GBIF has records from 21 csquares; Flickr has records from 6 csquares. Overlap between GBIF and Flickr = 6.

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Table 3: Comparison of Biodiversity Data from GBIF and Flickr


Taxa Number of GBIF 1010 Squares with Records Number of Geotagged Photos on Flickr Number of csquares covered (GBIF) Number of csquares covered (Flickr) Overlap Percentage of Flickr csquares that overlap with GBIF csquares

Cerdocyon thous (crab-eating fox) Oryctolagus cuniculus (European rabbit) Morchella esculenta (common morel fungi) Coprinus comatus (shaggy ink-cap fungi) Coprinus atramentarius (smooth ink-cap fungi) Carcinus maenas (shore crab) Cancer pagurus (edible crab) Maja squinado (common spider crab) Anopheles quadrimaculatus (mosquito) Achaearanea tepidariorum (common house spider) Anax imperator (emperor dragonfly)

106 697

13 20

16 53

6 4

5 4

83.3% 100%

119

20

27

75%

206

20

27

83.3%

105

20

23

50%

209 146 80

20 20 6

31 14 14

6 5 4

5 5 4

83.3% 100% 100%

18

100%

40

20

13

33.3%

161

20

21

100%

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Table 4: Comparison of species natural habitats with observed distributions


Species Cerdocyon thous (crabeating fox) Oryctolagus cuniculus (European rabbit) Morchella esculenta (common morel fungi) Natural Habitat
Colombia and southern Venezuela, Paraguay, Uruguay and Northern Argentina. South west Europe (Spain and Portugal) and north west Africa (Morocco and Algeria).

Observed Distribution (GBIF)


Colombia and southern Venezuela,Paraguay, Uruguay and Northern Argentina and North America (west coast)

Observed Distributions (Flickr)


Colombia and southern Venezuela,Paraguay, Uruguay and Northern Argentina and North America (south-west coast) South west Europe (Spain and Portugal) and north west Africa (Morocco and Algeria).

All Europe, Australia, South America, USA, Alaska and Pacific Islands All Europe, Western Australia, Japan, North America and Central America, New Zealand.
Europe, North America, Central America, Australia, New Zealand and South America

North America (particularly common in eastern North America & Midwest), Canada, Brazil.
Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Iceland Europe, North America and Asia

Western Europe and Eastern USA.

Coprinus comatus (shaggy ink-cap fungi) Coprinus atramentarius (smooth ink-cap fungi)

Western Europe and Eastern Australia. Europe, Scandinavia and Russia.

Carcinus maenas (shore crab)

North-east Atlantic Ocean, Baltic Sea, Australia, South Africa, South America and both Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North America.

Europe, North America, Iceland, Central America, South America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. North-east Atlantic Ocean, Baltic Sea, Australia, midPacific, Red Sea area, South Africa, South America and both Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North America. North American mainland. North Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and Russia. North-east Atlantic, East Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea Eastern North America, Western North America, Central America South America, Europe, Far East and Eastern Australia. All Europe, Western Africa, Northern Africa and Southern Africa.

North West and North East Atlantic, Baltic and Indian Ocean.

Cancer pagurus (edible crab) Maja squinado (common spider crab) Anopheles quadrimaculatus (mosquito) Achaearanea tepidariorum (common house spider) Anax imperator (emperor dragonfly)

North Sea, North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea North-east Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea Eastern North America.

North Sea, North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea North-east Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea Eastern North America.

Americas, Myanmar and Pakistan Southern Europe, north Africa and Asia

North America and Continental Europe. All Europe and Northern Africa.

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3.3 Global geo-tagging activity

Figure 32: Global heat-map of geo-tagging activity. The map reveals a high degree of geo-tagging activity in North America, Europe and Australasia but a much lower frequency in other parts of the globe.

3.4 Tourism Heat Maps

Figure 33: Heat-map of tourism in Europe and Africa. Yellow indicates a high level of tourism. Red indicates a moderate level of tourism. Blue represents a low level of tourism. The script used to generate this map is based on analysis of images uploaded to Panoramia (http://www.panoramio.com/) and takes into account the number of photos and authors there are in each respective region.

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Figure 34: Heat-map of tourism in North America. Yellow indicates a high level of tourism. Red indicates a moderate level of tourism. Blue represents a low level of tourism. The script used to generate this map is based on analysis of images uploaded to Panoramia (http://www.panoramio.com/) and takes into account the number of photos and authors there are in each respective region.

Figure 35: Heat-map of tourism in Greenland. Yellow indicates a high level of tourism. Red indicates a moderate level of tourism. Blue represents a low level of tourism. The script used to generate this map is based on analysis of images uploaded to Panoramia (http://www.panoramio.com/) and takes into account the number of photos and authors there are in each respective region.

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Figure 36: Heat-map of tourism in Antartica. Yellow indicates a high level of tourism. Red indicates a moderate level of tourism. Blue represents a low level of tourism. The script used to generate this map is based on analysis of images uploaded to Panoramia (http://www.panoramio.com/) and takes into account the number of photos and authors there are in each respective region.

4. Discussion
4.1 Explaining Unexpected Taxa Distributions Of interest to the present study is the unexpected distribution of certain taxa involved in this analysis. Taxa that exhibit a surprising distribution include Diceros bicornis (Black Rhinoceros), Uncia uncial (snow leopard), Panthera tigris (tiger), Ailuropoda melanoleuca (giant panda), Gavialis gangeticus (Gharial), Cuon alpinus (Asian Wild Dog), Amazona viridigenalis (GreenCheeked Parrot), Ceratotherium simum (white rhinoceros), Tapirus Indicus (Malayan Tapir), Heosemys depressa (Arakan Forest Turtle), Ursus maritimus (Polar bear), Lycaeon pictus (African wild dog), and Pan paniscus (Bonobo).

Many of these discrepancies can be accounted for by the fact that these animals are held in captivity in zoos and wildlife parks. Black rhinoceroses, for example, have been photographed in zoos in South Devon (United Kingdom), Hanover, Krefeld and Saxony (Germany), and Florida (USA). Snow leopards have been photographed in a zoo in New York (USA). Photographs of tigers have been captured at zoos in regions including Georgia and Florida (USA), and Yerevan (Armenia). Likewise, giant pandas now feature in Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland. Photos of Giant
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Pandas have also been captured at the National Park in Washington, USA. Gharials have been photographed in a zoo in France. Asian wild dogs have been photographed in zoos in Toronto (Canada) and Germany and in the United Kingdom. Green-cheeked parrots have been photographed in a zoo in Illinois (USA).

An additional problem pertains to the fact that some of the images on Flickr represent artistic displays or museum exhibits. For example, one photo on Flickr displays a mounted tiger head in the Natural Science Research Laboratory at the Museum of Texas Tech University. There is also a photo of a stuffed tiger at the Bridport Museum on South Street in Bridport, England. Similarly, photos of a Gharial skull have been photographed at the Smithsonian museum of natural history in Washington D.C.

A further problem relates to cases where the same animal has been photographed more than once, although frequency of occurrence likely correlates with the frequency of an organism being photographed. This problem particularly pertains, however, to those instances where animals are present in zoos. Information from Flickr, therefore, should be used only to elucidate biogeographical spread of a given taxa, but may not be entirely reliable with respect to determining the frequency of a species in a given habitat. Moreover, not all of the photos on Flickr have been appropriately geo-tagged such that their location can be readily identified.

Another shortcoming is the occasional occurrence of mis-entered data. Spelling mistakes in species names also occur on Flickr. Moreover, the common names of species are more likely to be known than their scientific names, and this leads to some of the data being omitted from the distribution maps. Previous research has reported that 70% of all georeferenced images analyzed include specific place name tags, (Hollenstein and Purves, 2010). The failure to geotag images uploaded to Flickr is another factor that results in the omission of data from distribution maps.

Errors can also occur when longitude and latitude co-ordinates are reversed, or when a longitude is erroneously recorded as being from the Western, rather than the Eastern, Hemisphere (or vice versa). This appears to be a problem not only for Flickr but also for GBIF. For example, the
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phylogeographic map produced for GBIF shows the unlikely presence of polar bears in Mauritius. This appears to result from a switching of the GPS co-ordinates. The co-ordinates given by GBIF (http://data.gbif.org/occurrences/searchWithTable.htm?c[0].s=20&c[0].p=0&c[0].o=2433451&c [1].s=19&c[1].p=0&c[1].o=69.8E,17.0S,69.9E,16.9S; accessed 28/07/12) are 17.0S, 69.8333E. Reversing those co-ordinates to 69.8333S, 17.0E places the Polar Bear in Antarctica.

Additionally, there have been complaints to Apple relating to a bug associated with the iPhone 11 whereby GPS co-ordinates are wrongly interpreted, resulting in erroneous geo-tagging where east and west co-ordinates are reversed (https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2623941?start=0&tstart=0; accessed 28/07/2012). This is a further potential source of error, although fixes for this bug have been released (http://www.geotagphotos.net/blog/2010/05/bug-in-aperture-application-wrong-interpretation-ofgps-coordinates/; accessed 28/07/2012).

Interestingly, when the procedure was repeated for less endangered species, Flickr images tended to exhibit much higher degrees of overlap with GBIF and deviate much less frequently from their known natural habitats. The observation that Flickr is generally much more accurate in conveying phylogeographic information with respect to less endangered species suggests that the tendency for endangered species to be held in zoos and wildlife parks is indeed a significant cause of discrepancy.

4.2 Is There a Bias Against Under-Developed Regions of the World? The geo-tagging heat map (figure 32) suggests that there exists a bias towards developed regions of the world such as North America, Europe and Australasia (where digital photography is more frequent) and against lesser developed parts of the world such as Northern Africa and much of Asia. There is an almost complete absence of geo-tagging activity in Greenland. This explains why Flickr does not reveal the presence of polar bears in Greenland (one of their natural habitats) but reveals their presence in less expected areas such as North America and Europe (where geo-tagging is much more common).

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4.3 Is There a Bias Against Regions with Low Tourist Interest? The tourism heat maps reveal similar patterns to the geo-tagging heat map. This raises the question of whether photographs on Flickr are taken principally by tourists as opposed to residents, thus raising the possibility of yet a further potential sampling bias. One way of testing this is to examine photos that have been taken in a region with a high level of geo-tagging activity relative to the surrounding vicinity such as Kenya. For Flickr users who have contributed to the Encyclopaedia of Life (EOL) group, Flickr produces a map indicating where in the world they have taken photos. This can be used to make inferences about the users likely place of residence. Performing this analysis reveals that all of the Flickr users who have taken photos in Kenya and who have contributed to the EOL group, for which it is possible by this method to discern a likely location of residence, do not live in Kenya. User David dO (http://www.flickr.com/photos/david_o/map/ accessed 02/08/2012) is likely resident in the Netherlands; Sara&Joachim (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sara_joachim/map/ accessed 02/08/2012) in South Africa; Kibuyu (http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidbygott/map/ accessed 02/08/2012) in Arizona, USA; Siwild (http://www.flickr.com/photos/smithsonianwild/map/ accessed 02/08/2012) in Panama, USA; Ludovic Hirlimann (http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhirlimann/map/ accessed 02/08/2012) in Germany; and Adaduitokla (http://www.flickr.com/photos/adaduitokla/map/ accessed 02/08/2012) in Malaysia.

Moreover, since data are collected opportunistically (Williams et al., 2002), it is possible that there may be significant spatial bias, for instance in favour of areas in close proximity to river and road networks (Chapman, 2005a). There is, moreover, a related spatial bias against less populated regions of the world. For example, figure 32 reveals the occurrence of geo-tagging activity in Brazil but its absence in the Amazon Jungle. This makes the use of Flickr somewhat less useful in terms of identifying novel species that have hitherto remained undocumented.

4.4 The Way Forward Error prevention is much cheaper and more efficient than error correction and cleaning (Chapman, 2005b). Nonetheless, measures should be developed to ensure proper data validation and correction for images uploaded to Flickr and similar image-sharing facilities. Achieving this
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goal requires the identification of common causes of error and utilizing this knowledge to modify and improve the procedure of data entry (Chapman, 2005a), in addition to identifying instances of error for data already entered and correcting those identified errors (Malectic and Marcus, 2000). It has been suggested that, unless adequate prevention measures have been taken, an error rate of 1-5% is expected (Redman, 1996). Finding and correcting erroneous records can be tedious and time consuming (Williams et al., 2002) but it is a task of great importance. The results of this paper indicate that improper entry of spatial position data and taxa identification are among the sources of error in entry of species-occurrence data. The latter category of error could be significantly reduced if tools, such as electronic taxa keys, were developed to aid taxa identification. Lists of species names for different taxonomic categories and geographical regions have already been developed, and efforts have been made to catalogue these into a global index (Froese and Bisby, 2012).

For apparent spatial errors arising from mis-entered longitudinal and latitudinal co-ordinates, correction may be possible by means of altering the sign (i.e. northern vs. southern hemisphere) or by switching longitudinal and latitudinal co-ordinates.

4.5 Conclusions: The Value of Crowd Sourcing as a Source of Biodiversity Information Technology advances have been identified as one of the major reason for climate change. Ironically, as is highlighted in this paper, properly harnessed technology affords a major opportunity to assist in cataloging and monitoring the effects on species. Given the scale and speed of change to the global environment, the importance of utilizing these resources is of major significance.

The main challenges in utilizing the crowd sourcing are; a. Technology is new and early gremlins have to be identified and fixed. b. GPS enabled cameras etc. are predominately afforded by individuals in wealthier parts of the world the demographic of Flickr users is certainly not representative of the global situation. It is obvious from figure 32 that the frequency of use in massive land masses such as the Amazon jungle are considerably less than in urban areas (yet the rainforest areas are the most endangered and also contain the highest variety of identified and
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unidentified species. This coincides with a weakness in GBIF inasmuch as such important countries such as Brazil and Bolivia are not participating countries. c. It is not yet at a stage where labeling can discern whether the species is in its natural habitat, in a zoo or displayed by a taxidermist. This may be improved by filtering out creatures held in zoo and museum locations. There are also identification issues such as that highlighted above, and documented by Stafford et al., (2010) regarding species of bumble bees. d. The possible sampling bias caused by the propensity for photographs on Flickr to be taken largely by tourists rather than residents. e. The overlap between GBIF and Flickr is distorted for endangered species. This is due to the celebrity status accorded to such creatures such as Giant Pandas whereas the tables show significantly greater overlap for creatures that are of lower public interest.

Significant advantages of crowd sourcing are also identified by this paper: a. It is democratic in that it engages millions of people throughout the world. This is effectively free research to the scientific community. The motivation of tagging is considered to be two-fold (i) for the personal organisation of the photographer and (ii) as a social contribution for the use of the wider community (Ames and Naaman, 2007). b. It instantly uploads the information and records the timing of the record. This is an important feature in coming to an understanding of migration and environmental impact. c. It is generally high quality in terms of presentation and when cataloging is accurate, it is easily filed and researched.

The following enhancements and filtering measures could improve the situation:
1.

Filtering out creatures and species held in zoos, botanic gardens, museums (e.g. stuffed animals) and research establishments.

2.

Dialogue with GPS and Flickr technicians with a view to eliminating these known problems.

3.

As budgets permit, distribution of GPS enabled cameras to residents of areas of particular but uncovered areas such as jungle, desert or arctic regions.

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4.

Raising public awareness of the contribution provided by photographers uploading and geo-tagging images.

Evidently, we are on a learning curve in respect of the application of advanced technology. It is also clear that there is a potential for distortion of records and the longer this goes unchecked, the harder it will be to unravel the emerging misunderstandings. If properly harnessed with attention paid to detail, this can make a huge indent to the cataloguing, monitoring and ultimately the protection of species. It will take a concerted effort of the scientific, technological and perhaps more importantly, public communities to advance our vital comprehension of biodiversity.

Literature Cited
Ames, M., & Naaman, M. (2007). Why We Tag: Motivations for Annotation in Mobile and Online Media. CHI 07: Proc. SIGCHI conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 971980. Bisby, F. A. (2012). The Quiet Revolution: Biodiversity Informatics and the Internet. Science, 2309(2000). Chapman, A. D. (2005a). Principles and Methods of Data Cleaning Primary Species and Species-Occurrence Data. Report for the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, Copenhagen. Chapman, A. D. (2005b). Principles of Data Quality. Report for the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, Copenhagen. Colwell, R. K., & Coddington, J. A. (1994). Estimating terrestrial biodiversity through extrapolation. Philosophical Transactions (Royal Society of London), 345, 101-118. Crandall, D., Backstrom, L., Huttenlocher, D., & Kleinberg, J. (2009). Mapping the Worlds Photos. WWW. Davies, N., Villablanca, F. X., & Roderick, G. K. (1999). Bioinvasions of the Medfly Ceratitis capitata: Source Estimation Using DNA Sequences at Multiple Intron Loci. Statistics, 153, 351-360. Edwards, J. L. (2012). Interoperability of Biodiversity Databases: Biodiversity Information on Every Desktop. Society, 2312(2000), 2312-2314.

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Eiben, C. B., Siegel, J. B., Bale, J. B., Cooper, S., Khatib, F., Shen, B. W., Players, F., et al. (2012). Increased Diels-Alderase activity through backbone remodeling guided by Foldit players. Nature Biotechnology, 30(2), 190-192. Nature Publishing Group. Fonseca, D. M., Campbell, S., Crans, W. J., Mogi, M., Miyagi, I., Toma, T., Bullians, M., et al. (1999). Aedes (Finlaya) japonicus (Diptera: Culicidae), a Newly Recognized Mosquito in the United States: Analyses of Genetic Variation in the United States and Putative Source Populations. Journal of Medical Entomology, 38(July 1998), 135-146. Froese, R., & Bisby, F. A. (2012). Catalogue of Life 2012. Retrieved from http://www.catalogueoflife.org/annual-checklist/ Hays, J., & Efros, A. A. (2008). IM2GPS: estimating geographic information from a single image. CVPR. Hollenstein, L., & Purves, R. S. (2010). Exploring place through user-generated content: Using Flickr tags to describe city cores. Journal of Spatial Information Science, 1, 21-48. Kennedy, L. (2008). Generating Diverse and Representative Image Search Results for Landmarks. WWW. Maletic, J. I., & Marcus, A. (2000). Data Cleansing: Beyond Integrity Analysis. Proceedings of the Conference on Information Quality (IQ2000), 200-209. Nelson, B. W., Ferreira, C. A. C., Silva, M. F. da, & Kawaski, M. L. (1990). Endemism centres, refugia and botanical collection density in Brazilian Amazonia. Nature, 345, 714-716. Nyberg, O. R., & Nyberg, D. (2001). Museum collections of mammals corroborate the exceptional decline of prairie habitat in the Chicago region. Journal of Mammalogy, 82(4), 984-992. Raddick, M. J., Gay, P. L., Lintott, C. J., Haven, N., & Szalay, A. S. (2010). Galaxy Zoo: Exploring the Motivations of Citizen Science Volunteers. Astronomy Education Review, 9(1). Redman, T. C. (1996). Data Quality for the Information Age. Artech House Inc. Sanchez-Cordero, V., & Martinez-Meyer, E. (2000). Museum specimen data predict crop damage by tropical rodents. PNAS, 97(13), 7074-7077. Shaffer, H. B., Fisher, R. N., & Davidson, C. (1998). The role of natural history collections in documenting species declines. Population (English Edition), 5347(97), 27-30. Suarez, A. V., Holway, D. A., & Case, T. J. (2001). Patterns of spread in biological invasions dominated by long-distance jump dispersal: Insights from Argentine ants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 98(3), 12-14.
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Stafford, R., Hart, A. G., Collins, L., Kirkhope, C. L., Williams, R. L., Rees, S. G., Lloyd, J. R., et al. (2010). Eu-Social Science: The Role of Internet Social Networks in the Collection of Bee Biodiversity Data. Social Networks, 5(12). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014381 Williams, P. H., Margules, C. R., & Hilbert, D. W. (2002). Data requirements and data sources for biodiversity priority area selection. J. Biosc., 27(4), 327-338. Winterton, S. L., Guek, H. P., & Brooks, S. J. (2012). A charismatic new species of green lacewing discovered in Malaysia ( Neuroptera , Chrysopidae ): the confluence of citizen scientist , online image database and cybertaxonomy. ZooKeys, 214, 1-11. Yesson, C., Brewer, P. W., Sutton, T., Caithness, N., Pahwa, J. S., Burgess, M., Gray, W. A., et al. (2007). How Global Is the Global Biodiversity Information Facility? Global Biodiversity, (11).

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