Showing readers what species look like

Added on 2010-12-10 10:30:00 by Appeltans, Ward
The World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) and associated databases are an index to the book of life, but our further goal is for every species to have its face on the web.

Journals and media websites are full of images of beautiful or sometimes scary-looking species. Clearly images attract far more readers than species names. These images may convey information on a species life-style, size, color, behavior, habitat, and/or feeding. Collectively they illustrate the diversity of life, and can instill a sense of wonder about biodiversity.

The WoRMS picture gallery has 14,000 images of 6,600 species, and is an example of a scientist-reviewed public picture gallery to serve the marine biology community. These images may also help users check they have the correct organism, and provide material for users to use in lectures and presentations.

Some benefits of our picture gallery in a nutshell:

  • user-controlled upload and display of web-sized images, without forcing creation of accounts and log-ins (but account holders have edit privileges)

  • automatically reads embedded camera capture metadata (i.e. exif, gps) from uploaded pictures

  • permits user-added minimal metadata: title, author, email, keywords

  • keywords are part of a controlled vocabulary and multiple entries are possible: drop-down list of taxonomic names (taxonomic names have persistent LSIDs)

  • multiple uses: images are automatically shared between regional (e.g. Canadian, European, Antartic portal), thematic (Harmful algae) and global (e.g. Porifera, Copepoda, etc) databases. In addition the images and metadata are harvested every three weeks by EOL-Encyclopedia of Life

  • recognize sources by citing institute or photographer from author field

  • choose between copyright or Creative Commons license

  • peer-review and data quality: verification status of taxonomic names and photo ID are indicated

  • editors respond quickly to edits, corrections, additions

  • search for any term (title, author, …) linked to the images

  • the number of times an image has been viewed is tracked

  • automatically resizes the image. It stores the original size, 800px wide and creates a thumbnail (if permitted, the original size can be provided or made publicly available upon request)

  • editors can link images to specimens, which can have additional metadata (e.g. details on code number, storage, identification, locality, biology etc)

  • an option to allow users to provide comments, which are moderated by the db admin

  • the picture gallery can also store and display video files

With thanks to Claude Nozères, who made us aware of the benefits of our own system.


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