Missouri Botanical Garden Open Conference Systems, TDWG 2016 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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Recognizing the Data Gap of Arthropods in Agricultural Biodiversity
Gail Kampmeier

Building: Computer Science
Room: Computer Science 3
Date: 2016-12-06 09:30 AM – 09:45 AM
Last modified: 2016-10-16


The release in February 2016 of the Final Report of the Task Group on GBIF Data Fitness for Use in Agrobiodiversity concentrated primarily on crop plants and their wild relatives, calling for a Darwin Core (DwC) germplasm extension and the integration of the Multi-Crop Passport Data standard, which has been in use and widely accepted for decades by agricultural gene banks. While addressing an important data gap, this interpretation of agricultural biodiversity does not address the enormous fauna that forms a dynamic part of the agroecosystem, and which are often the subjects of controlled multi-year, multi-location experiments conducted within the crop and at various scales in the larger landscape.

Traditional agricultural scientists are as much to blame for the lack of appreciation of the extended value of their data in the context of biodiversity as anyone: they do not contribute nor do they see the value of contributing their data to the same repositories as those conducting or documenting “traditional” biodiversity inventories. Yet they have a wealth of data, often collected over years in field experiments designed to show differences in how cropping systems and their management may affect the resident and visiting fauna (herbivores, vectors of plant pathogens, pollinators, predators, parasites, and parasitoids) and their phenology through time.  This represents a large untapped reservoir of raw data from a community that generally just publishes distilled and analysed specimen observations, and only deposits vouchers of observed species in museums. But to make use of that data for purposes other than its original use would require not only certain modifications of systems to easily accommodate it, but a real change in attitude on the part of the researchers and credit for making such efforts.  What standards might need to be added? And how can we either mine existing datasets or persuade agricultural scientists to contribute their data to the global conversation?  This is a hole in the animal (particularly invertebrate) area, but integrating this with various crops, cropping systems, and cultural practices could well provide insights for pollination services, predator/prey dynamics, epidemiology of plant viruses, invasive species, and long distance movement of pests.