Presentation Open Access

Plazi – on expedition to discover known biodiversity

Agosti, Donat

Lecture presented August 10, 2018, New York Botanical Garden

Biodiversity is an intricate part of our daily life, from creating our oxygen, providing our food, lining and cleaning the streets of our cities to being the source of an ongoing scientific challenge our community follows with full of verve: how many species are there? The estimated more than 500 Million pages of scholarly publications with an intricate, implicit web of citations, and a couple of billion specimens in thousands of natural history institutions are the best witness of this relentless drive. The digital age, however, points the finger mercilessly to the fact that we don’t know what we actually accumulated over the centuries, i.e. what we supposedly could know.

This lecture describes the expeditions Plazi undertakes to uncover the vast troves of data and citations contained in the published record. This will cover some of the first findings it exposes in both human and machine readable formats at TreatmentBank for taxonomic treatments, the Biodiversity Literature Repository for scholarly figures, and the fledgling Openbiodiv biodiversity knowledge management system based on the uncovered citations. It will end with suggestions how this knowledge can be made immediately accessible upon publishing, bridging the gap from publication to the underlying data, mainly the specimens housed in the natural history collections, genomic databases and citizen science networks.

A discussion with the audience on strategies to enhance the efficiency of the expeditions is wanted.

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