Dynamic visualisation of million?tip trees: The OneZoom project – Wong – – Methods in Ecology and Evolution – Wiley Online Library

Abstract:  

 

The complete tree of life is now available, but methods to visualise it are still needed to meet needs in research, teaching and science communication. Dynamic visualisation of million-tip trees requires many challenges in data synthesis, data handling and computer graphics to be overcome.
Our approach is to automate data processing, synthesise data from a wide range of available sources, then to feed these data to a client-side visualisation engine in parts. We develop a way to store the whole tree topology locally in a highly compressed form, then dynamically populate metadata such as text and images as the user explores.
The result is a seamless and smooth way to explore the complete tree of life, including images and metadata, even on relatively old mobile devices.
The underlying methods developed have applications that transcend tree of life visualisation. For the whole complete tree, we describe automated ID mappings between well known resources without resorting to taxonomic name resolution, automated methods to collate sets of public domain representative images for higher taxa, and an index to measure public interest of individual species.
The visualisation layout and the client user interface are both abstracted components of the codebase enabling other zoomable tree layouts to be swapped in, and supporting multiple applications including exhibition kiosks and digital art.
After 10 years of work, our tree of life explorer is now broadly complete, it has attracted nearly 1.5 million online users, and is backed by a novel long-term sustainability plan. We conclude our description of the OneZoom project by suggesting the next challenges that need to be solved in this field: extinct species and guided tours around the tree.”

“The Google Earth of Biology” – Visually Stunning Tree of All Known Life Unveiled Online

 

“The OneZoom explorer – available at onezoom.org – maps the connections between 2.2 million living species, the closest thing yet to a single view of all species known to science. The interactive tree of life allows users to zoom in to any species and explore its relationships with others, in a seamless visualisation on a single web page. The explorer also includes images of over 85,000 species, plus, where known, their vulnerability to extinction.

OneZoom was developed by Imperial College London biodiversity researcher Dr. James Rosindell and University of Oxford evolutionary biologist Dr. Yan Wong. In a paper published today in Methods in Ecology and Evolution, Drs Wong and Rosindell present the result of over ten years of work, gradually creating what they regard as “the Google Earth of biology.” …”

Dr. Wong added: “It’s extraordinary how much research there is still to be done. Building the OneZoom tree of life was only possible through sophisticated methods to gather and combine existing data – it would have been impossible to curate all this by hand.”

VectorBase.org Updates: Bioinformatic Resources for Invertebrate Vectors of Human Pathogens and Related Organisms – ScienceDirect

Abstract:  VectorBase (VectorBase.org) is part of the VEuPathDB Bioinformatics Resource Center, providing free online access to multi-omics and population biology data, focusing on arthropod vectors and invertebrates of importance to human health. VectorBase includes genomics and functional genomics data from bed bugs, biting midges, body lice, kissing bugs, mites, mosquitoes, sand flies, ticks, tsetse flies, stable flies, house flies, fruit flies, and a snail intermediate host. Tools include the Search Strategy system and MapVEu, enabling users to interrogate and visualize diverse ‘omics and population-level data using a graphical interface (no programming experience required). Users can also analyze their own private data, such as transcriptomic sequences, exploring their results in the context of other publicly-available information in the database. Help Desk: help@vectorbase.org.

 

 

Frontiers | The FAANG Data Portal: Global, Open-Access, “FAIR”, and Richly Validated Genotype to Phenotype Data for High-Quality Functional Annotation of Animal Genomes | Genetics

Abstract:  The Functional Annotation of ANimal Genomes (FAANG) project is a worldwide coordinated action creating high-quality functional annotation of farmed and companion animal genomes. The generation of a rich genome-to-phenome resource and supporting informatic infrastructure advances the scope of comparative genomics and furthers the understanding of functional elements. The project also provides terrestrial and aquatic animal agriculture community powerful resources for supporting improvements to farmed animal production, disease resistance, and genetic diversity. The FAANG Data Portal (https://data.faang.org) ensures Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) open access to the wealth of sample, sequencing, and analysis data produced by an ever-growing number of FAANG consortia. It is developed and maintained by the FAANG Data Coordination Centre (DCC) at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). FAANG projects produce a standardised set of multi-omic assays with resulting data placed into a range of specialised open data archives. To ensure this data is easily findable and accessible by the community, the portal automatically identifies and collates all submitted FAANG data into a single easily searchable resource. The Data Portal supports direct download from the multiple underlying archives to enable seamless access to all FAANG data from within the portal itself. The portal provides a range of predefined filters, powerful predictive search, and a catalogue of sampling and analysis protocols and automatically identifies publications associated with any dataset. To ensure all FAANG data submissions are high-quality, the portal includes powerful contextual metadata validation and data submissions brokering to the underlying EMBL-EBI archives. The portal will incorporate extensive new technical infrastructure to effectively deliver and standardise FAANG’s shift to single-cellomics, cell atlases, pangenomes, and novel phenotypic prediction models. The Data Portal plays a key role for FAANG by supporting high-quality functional annotation of animal genomes, through open FAIR sharing of data, complete with standardised rich metadata. Future Data Portal features developed by the DCC will support new technological developments for continued improvement for FAANG projects.

 

Inside An Effort To Put Millions Of Biological Specimens Online : Shots – Health News : NPR

“For scientists to pull out detailed information like that, however, they first have to know that a particular specimen even exists. In 2011, the National Science Foundation started handing out grants as part of a ten-year push to bring old-fashioned collections into the Internet age. One of the goals was to put specimen records online and into a searchable portal called iDigBio….

Now, as that program winds down, he and other experts are pondering what needs to happen over the next decade so that biological collections can continue to become more accessible. That’s why the NSF recently asked for some advice from an expert panel convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

One of its recommendations was simple: create a national registry of all collections, so experts know who’s got plants, microbes, or animals of interest.

The U.S. is thought to possess about 1,800 natural history collections, which is about a third of those that exist worldwide. In addition, the country has at least 2,800 “living stock” collections, such as microbe collections, which continually maintain living organisms for research….”

An open access dataset for developing automated detectors of Antarctic baleen whale sounds and performance evaluation of two commonly used detectors | Scientific Reports

Abstract:  Since 2001, hundreds of thousands of hours of underwater acoustic recordings have been made throughout the Southern Ocean south of 60° S. Detailed analysis of the occurrence of marine mammal sounds in these circumpolar recordings could provide novel insights into their ecology, but manual inspection of the entirety of all recordings would be prohibitively time consuming and expensive. Automated signal processing methods have now developed to the point that they can be applied to these data in a cost-effective manner. However training and evaluating the efficacy of these automated signal processing methods still requires a representative annotated library of sounds to identify the true presence and absence of different sound types. This work presents such a library of annotated recordings for the purpose of training and evaluating automated detectors of Antarctic blue and fin whale calls. Creation of the library has focused on the annotation of a representative sample of recordings to ensure that automated algorithms can be developed and tested across a broad range of instruments, locations, environmental conditions, and years. To demonstrate the utility of the library, we characterise the performance of two automated detection algorithms that have been commonly used to detect stereotyped calls of blue and fin whales. The availability of this library will facilitate development of improved detectors for the acoustic presence of Southern Ocean blue and fin whales. It can also be expanded upon to facilitate standardization of subsequent analysis of spatiotemporal trends in call-density of these circumpolar species.

 

 

A database of zooplankton biomass in Australian marine waters – PubMed

Abstract:  Zooplankton biomass data have been collected in Australian waters since the 1930s, yet most datasets have been unavailable to the research community. We have searched archives, scanned the primary and grey literature, and contacted researchers, to collate 49187 records of marine zooplankton biomass from waters around Australia (0-60°S, 110-160°E). Many of these datasets are relatively small, but when combined, they provide >85 years of zooplankton biomass data for Australian waters from 1932 to the present. Data have been standardised and all available metadata included. We have lodged this dataset with the Australian Ocean Data Network, allowing full public access. The Australian Zooplankton Biomass Database will be valuable for global change studies, research assessing trophic linkages, and for initialising and assessing biogeochemical and ecosystem models of lower trophic levels.

 

ZooArchNet: Connecting zooarchaeological specimens to the biodiversity and archaeology data networks

Abstract:  Interdisciplinary collaborations and data sharing are essential to addressing the long history of human-environmental interactions underlying the modern biodiversity crisis. Such collaborations are increasingly facilitated by, and dependent upon, sharing open access data from a variety of disciplinary communities and data sources, including those within biology, paleontology, and archaeology. Significant advances in biodiversity open data sharing have focused on neontological and paleontological specimen records, making available over a billion records through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. But to date, less effort has been placed on the integration of important archaeological sources of biodiversity, such as zooarchaeological specimens. Zooarchaeological specimens are rich with both biological and cultural heritage data documenting nearly all phases of human interaction with animals and the surrounding environment through time, filling a critical gap between paleontological and neontological sources of data within biodiversity networks. Here we describe technical advances for mobilizing zooarchaeological specimen-specific biological and cultural data. In particular, we demonstrate adaptations in the workflow used by biodiversity publisher VertNet to mobilize Darwin Core formatted zooarchaeological data to the GBIF network. We also show how a linked open data approach can be used to connect existing biodiversity publishing mechanisms with archaeoinformatics publishing mechanisms through collaboration with the Open Context platform. Examples of ZooArchNet published datasets are used to show the efficacy of creating this critically needed bridge between biological and archaeological sources of open access data. These technical advances and efforts to support data publication are placed in the larger context of ZooarchNet, a new project meant to build community around new approaches to interconnect zoorchaeological data and knowledge across disciplines.

Extending U.S. Biodiversity Collections to Promote Research and Education

“Our national heritage of approximately one billion biodiversity specimens, once digitized, can be linked to emerging digital data sources to form an information-rich network for exploring earth’s biota across taxonomic, temporal and spatial scales. A workshop held 30 October – 1 November 2018 at Oak Spring Garden in Upperville, VA under the leadership of the Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN) developed a strategy for the next decade to maximize the value of our collections resource for research and education. In their deliberations, participants drew heavily on recent literature as well as surveys, and meetings and workshops held over the past year with the primary stakeholder community of collections professionals, researchers, and educators.

Arising from these deliberations is a vision to focus future biodiversity infrastructure and digital resources on building a network of extended specimen data that encompasses the depth and breadth of biodiversity specimens and data held in U.S. collections institutions. The extended specimen network (ESN) includes the physical voucher specimen curated and housed in a collection and its associated genetic, phenotypic and environmental data (both physical and digital). These core data types, selected because they are key to answering driving research questions, include physical preparations such as tissue samples and their derivative products such as gene sequences or metagenomes, digitized media and annotations, and taxon- or locality-specific data such as occurrence observations, phylogenies and species distributions. Existing voucher specimens will be extended both manually and through new automated methods, and data will be linked through unique identifiers, taxon name and location across collections, across disciplines and to outside sources of data. As we continue our documentation of earth’s biota, new collections will be enhanced from the outset, i.e., accessioned with a full suite of data. We envision the ESN proposed here will be the gold standard for the structured cloud of integrated data associated with all vouchered specimens. These permanent specimen vouchers, in which genotypes and phenotypes link to a particular environment in time and space, comprise an irreplaceable resource for the millennia….”

BCoN Report: Extending U.S. Biodiversity Collections to Promote Research and Education

The Biodiversity Collections Network has released its new report, Extending U.S. Biodiversity Collections to Promote Research and Education.  You are invited to download and share the summary brochure and to review the longer report that provides additional detail about this vision for the future. …”

Report urges massive digitization of museum collections | Science | AAAS

“The United States should launch an effort to create an all-encompassing database of the millions of stuffed, dried, and otherwise preserved plants, animals, and fossils in museums and other collections, a U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)–sponsored white paper released today urges. The report, titled Extending U.S. Biodiversity Collections to Promote Research and Education, also calls for new approaches to cataloging digitized specimens and linking them to a range of other data about each organism and where it was collected. If the plan is carried out, “There will be [a] huge potential impact for the research community to do new types of research,” says NSF biology Program Director Reed Beaman in Alexandria, Virginia.

The effort could take decades and cost as much as half a billion dollars, however, and some researchers are worried the white paper will not win over policymakers. “I just wish that the report focused more on the potential benefits for noncollections communities,” says James Hanken, director of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

For the past 8 years, NSF has sponsored the $100 million, 10-year Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections program, which has paid for nearly 62 million plant and animal specimens to be digitally photographed from multiple angles for specific research studies. New technology has greatly sped up the process. Already, researchers studying natural history and how species are related are reaping the benefits of easy access to a wealth of information previous locked in museums….”

Do not publish | Science

“Biologists have long valued publishing detailed information on rare and endangered species. Until relatively recently, much of this information was accessible only through accessing specialized scientific journals in university libraries. However, much of these data have been transferred online with the advent of digital platforms and a rapid push to open-access publication. Information is increasingly also available online in public reports and wildlife atlases, and research published behind paywalls can often be found in the public domain. Increased data and information accessibility has many benefits, such as helping to improve repeatability in scientific studies and enhancing collaboration (1, 2). However, such readily accessible information also creates major problems in the context of conserving endangered species….”

Scientists Keep Accidentally Doxxing Endangered Species – Vocativ

“Publishing information about the specific locations of endangered species helps scientists, but it’s also putting those same animals at risk. A team of researchers, writing in the journal Science, is sounding the alarm bell.

In the past, it was really only scientists who read scientific journals. They were physical copies, sent to a researcher’s mailbox or the library of an academic institution. So there wasn’t much risk to publishing the exact places where rare species lived — it helped others in the field learn more about these ephemeral creatures.

Today, the stakes are different. Journal articles new and old are published online, and the rise in open access journals make more information available to the public. In some fields of science, sharing data is considered a good thing. But in the study of endangered species, it sometimes does more harm than good….”

Brand new old journal

“Established in 1898 as Mitteilungen aus dem Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, Zoologische Reihe by the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Zoosystematics and Evolution is one of the oldest European zoological journals. Combining tradition and innovation, it joined the family of Pensoft’s open access journals earlier this year. The first issue for 2014 is now available in a novel, attractive open access, semantically enriched format, keeping at the same time the traditional PDF and print versions. Being already a member of Pensoft’s family of advanced open access journals, Zoosystematics and Evolution now benefits from the innovative “platinum ”open access model….”