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Abstract Detail

Systematics Section

Gilbert, Edward [1], Gries, Corinna [2], Nash III, Thomas H. [2].

Symbiota: Software for Bio-Collaboration and the Integration of Regional Specimen Data.

Symbiota (http://symbiota.org) is a software package that has been specifically designed to aid researchers in creating specimen-based virtual floras for scientific and public use. One of the central goals of this project is to foster bio-collaboration through the integration of regional collection data with the wealth of digitized biodiversity data (images, descriptions, morphological character data, etc.) readily available but poorly utilized. The benefit of building upon a foundation of authoritatively identified specimens is the insurance of preserving an elevated level of data quality overseen by taxonomic experts. Furthermore, georeferenced specimens provide a geographic perspective that allows users to dynamically generate maps and species lists directly from the specimen data. We have currently aided in the establishment of data nodes for plants of southwestern North America (SEINet), North American lichens, and American Myrtaceae (CoTRAM).
One of the more innovative features of this model is the ability to dynamically generate identification keys for any taxonomically complex species list as denoted by specimen distributions or user input. Species lists containing morphologically distinct taxa such as grasses, cacti, and ferns tend to pose a challenge to interactive key interfaces given that they share few morphological characters useful for their identification. Character information stored in a relational data structure paired with the ability to link morphology to nodes within a taxonomic hierarchy enables flexible, efficient methods to quickly evaluate extremely large and complex species lists and incorporate taxon-specific morphology that is only relevant to particular families or genera. Each time a morphological character selection reduces the list of possible species matches, Symbiota algorithms analyze the new list of taxa to re-determine which characters are most relevant to the remaining taxa. Species descriptions in conjunction with specimen and field images aid the user in narrowing down a final identification of an unknown specimen.

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Related Links:
North American Lichens

1 - Arizona State University , Global Institute of Sustainability, P.O. Box 874501, Tempe, Arizona, 85287-4501, USA
2 - Arizona State University, School of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 874501, Tempe, Arizona, 85287-4501, USA

Virtual Flora
Herbarium Collections
specimen data
data integration.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for BSA Sections
Session: 67
Location: Wasatch B/Cliff Lodge - Level C
Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
Time: 2:00 PM
Number: 67005
Abstract ID:695