Missouri Botanical Garden Open Conference Systems, TDWG 2014 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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Capacity Building in Biodiversity Informatics in the Biodiversity-Rich Tropics
Prabhakar Rajagopal, D. Balasubramanian, Thomas Vattakaven, Sangay Dema

Building: Elmia Congress Centre, Jönköping
Room: Rum 10
Date: 2014-10-28 11:30 AM – 11:45 AM
Last modified: 2014-10-04


The tropical areas harbour over 90% of the biodiversity of the world. Biodiversity informatics is however, still in its infancy in most areas rich in biodiversity. While countries in Central and South America, like Costa Rica, Mexico and Brazil have pioneered and made large strides in biodiversity informatics and open data, countries in Africa, South and South-east Asia have yet to establish public and open databases of their biodiversity.

The countries of Africa, South Asia and South-east Asia, have been biologically explored for centuries and the biodiversity of these areas has been well documented in herbaria, museums, in studies and literature. However, public policy, citizen participation, institutional support, and attitudes towards open data in biodiversity still need to evolve and mature. The poor status of herbarium and museum digitization, lack of integration and exchange between databases, and the chaos of multiple differing classifications within taxonomy pose significant challenges for biodiversity informatics in these countries.

Given the experiences of nascent biodiversity informatics initiatives in the tropics, the presenters will share experiences from biodiversity informatics projects in India, Bhutan and Western Indian Ocean islands. Challenges faced by initiatives in these countries are manifold. While citizen science could have huge potential for aggregating biodiversity information, it is still nascent and participation is a challenge. Although there are recent policy changes towards open data, there are issues in acceptance and implementation of open data by stakeholders. While there are a multitude of sites with biodiversity information, there is little awareness of TDWG biodiversity information standards that could help in exchange and aggregation of information. Furthermore a system for reconciliation of different classifications, which is essential for integrating biodiversity data is absent. Finally the ability to build and sustain the technology platform, catering to rapidly evolving user needs is a challenge.

The presentation will discuss priorities for biodiversity informatics in these countries for the objective of open and free biodiversity data in the public domain in these biodiversity-rich areas.