Biodiversity Informatics Curriculum Development, Part 1.1

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“Biodiversity informatics … can be defined as the creation, improvement, analysis, and interpretation of information regarding biodiversity.  The field was born out of the longtime information-management of the systematics community, in tandem with the realization of the desperate situation of the ‘biodiversity crisis’ in recent decades. Although biodiversity information has accumulated for centuries, this information has not been managed effectively until very recently. Over the past two decades however, large-scale efforts have concentrated on the challenge of building, improving, and understanding these information resources; what we now term the field of biodiversity informatics.

The primary goal … is to consolidate information and resources relating to biodiversity informatics – ultimately developing into a global, online training ‘curriculum’ for biodiversity informatics. With funding from the JRS Biodiversity Foundation, and the support of the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), we are setting out to develop such a training curriculum.” (BITC website, currently in development).

The initiative provides for a series of training courses to be held in four countries in Africa over the next 3 years, the first of which commenced yesterday in Nairobi, Kenya. Thus, the PI, myself, and 4 experts in the field of biodiversity informatics arrived late Saturday night for the first installment of the courses leading to the holistic biodiversity informatics curriculum mentioned above. The courses being taught are (1) Data Cleaning & Data Publishing and (2)Ecological Niche Modeling. Over the coming two weeks, we’ll have the opportunity to work with more than 75 people involved in all areas of biodiversity work from 15 countries across Africa. Luckily, we’re being hosted at the International Centre of Insect Physiology & Ecology (ICIPE; pictured below), so we’ve more than ample room and a comfortable place to work and exchange knowledge.

As we’re not in Nairobi proper, we even get to see a fair bit of avian biodiversity …such as these Marabou Storks (Leptoptilos crumeniferus; pictured below) convening for their own conference in a pasture adjacent to the campus…

Marabou Storks, Leptoptilos crumeniferus

…some fun nectar feeders enjoying the flowers of toxic trees (to humans)….

…signs of kids who majored in basket weaving….

Weaver Nest

….birds of prey that have learned the art of dining around regions inhabited by humans….

…and even some punk rockers.


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