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Curating Local Bird Observation Records while Leveraging Global Citizen Science Platforms for Biodiversity

Grenz, Daryl; Karsou, Rawan; Baessa, Mohamed

In 2009, KAUST opened as a new university and town built in the coastal desert along the shores of the Red Sea in western Saudi Arabia, significantly altering the local natural environment. Soon after, a birdwatcher began keeping private records of birds observed in the mix of new and old habitats being created in the university campus. In support of the institutional commitment to stewardship of its environment, this individual later took a position working for the university to record, conserve and enhance native biodiversity, while also networking with other community members to share observations. 

As this founding community member prepared to depart the university in 2019, the university library repository team worked with him to convert the collected data into a community resource that saves past records into a stable environment where they can be explored within the local context. In addition, by integrating with existing, globally recognized citizen science tools, we worked to provide a dynamic collection that will continue to grow with participation from new community members. 

This presentation will focus on the experiences of converting unstructured data into a standard, structured form with reference to the Darwin Core metadata standard, and of integrating with the eBird API for new observation records. We will also introduce some of the tools we relied on, such as the use of Knime for data extraction and conversion, and also discuss how this project is providing a basis for additional efforts to curate biodiversity information in our institution.

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