Monday, September 29, 2008

Ants in the New Yorker

Who says you have to go to the far off jungles to study ant diversity? Check out this New Yorker article on the work of former graduate student Marko Pecarevic entitled Ant Diversity and Abundance Increase with Increasing Plant Complexity and Amount of Garbage Bins in New York City Street Medians.

Via bridgeandtunnelclub

Sunday, September 28, 2008

How to Identify Queens

Alex over at Myrmecos has a fabulous post on how to identify queens. It is the clearest, most useful explanation I have ever seen, with some wonderful images to illustrate. I really wish I had had this when I was first starting out. Go check it out and thank Alex for all the hard work he clearly put into this. Thanks Alex!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Check List: journal of species lists and distributions

Just had this journal pointed out to me today. From their website:
CHECK LIST is a quarterly journal devoted to publishing species occurrence lists, geographic distribution maps, and notes on the geographic distribution of any taxon. These reports have traditionally been neglected and considered "too basic" or "not scientifically relevant" for publication in other venues. CHECK LIST seeks to remedy this. Efforts to preserve the remaining ranges of species are fundamental for the conservation of biodiversity and the first step to accomplish this is to keep records of the distribution of the species. CHECK LIST was created to fill this gap by publishing papers on these important inventories.
It looks like it is a Brazilian-based effort by CRIA (Centro de Referência em Informação Ambiental), a "non-profit and non-governmental Brazilian organization that aims to contribute to the conservation of global biodiversity by dissemination of high quality scientific information." Since 2005 they have published 11 issues (in English) online. Papers are peer-reviewed, turn-around is quick, and there are no publication costs. Sounds good to me. Check them out here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Scratchpads: biodiversity online

Scratchpads: Biodiversity Online is an online biodiversity site (duh) that looks very promising. From their website:

Scratchpads are an easy to use, social networking application that enable communities of researchers to manage, share and publish taxonomic data online. Sites are hosted at the Natural History Museum London, and offered free to any scientist that completes an online registration form. Key features of the Scratchpads include tools to manage:

Taxonomy Classifications Phylogeny Phylogenies
Literature Bibliographies Documents Documents
Images Image galleries Custom Data Custom data
Specimens Specimen records Simple Maps Maps

Users control who has access to content, which is published on the site under Creative Commons (by-nc-sa) license.

Data added to a Scratchpad are automatically classified and grouped around a taxonomy that is supplied by the users. This is optionally supplemented with information from high quality web accessible databases, to automatic construct content rich web pages about any documented taxon. Currently these sources include Genbank, GBIF, Biodiversity Heritage Library, Yahoo! Images, flickr and Google Scholar.

Want to learn more? I do!

  • Roberts, D., Rycroft, S.D., González, M., and Smith, V.S. (2007) Scratchpads: what are they? European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy News (newsletter article).

  • Smith, VS.* (2008) Cybertaxonomy: applying computers & the Web to the study of biodiversity. Invited. Part of the Voyages of Discovery lecture series. Natural History Museum, London, U.K. April 22, 2008.

  • Smith, VS.*, Rycroft, S.D. & Roberts, D. (2008) Scratchpads: Getting biodiversity online, redefining publication. Invited. NHM trustees presentation. Natural History Museum, London, U.K. March 4, 2008.

  • Smith, VS.*, Rycroft, S.D., & Roberts, D. (2008) Scratchpads: Getting biodiversity online, redefining publication. EDIT general meeting, Carvoeiro, Portugal. Jan. 24, 2008.
    PPT Slideshare