Next-Generation Field Guides

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2013-01-01
Authors
Farnsworth, Elizabeth
Chu, Miyoko
Kress, W. John
Neill, Amanda
Best, Jason
Pickering, John
Stevenson, Robert
Ellison, Aaron
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Courtney, Gregory
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VanDyk, John
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Entomology

The Department of Entomology seeks to teach the study of insects, their life-cycles, and the practicalities in dealing with them, for use in the fields of business, industry, education, and public health. The study of entomology can be applied towards evolution and ecological sciences, and insects’ relationships with other organisms & humans, or towards an agricultural or horticultural focus, focusing more on pest-control and management.

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The Department of Entomology was founded in 1975 as a result of the division of the Department of Zoology and Entomology.

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Abstract

To conserve species, we must first identify them. Field researchers, land managers, educators, and citizen scientists need up-to-date and accessible tools to identify organisms, organize data, and share observations. Emerging technologies complement traditional, book-form field guides by providing users with a wealth of multimedia data. We review technical innovations of next-generation field guides, including Web-based and stand-alone applications, interactive multiple-access keys, visual-recognition software adapted to identify organisms, species checklists that can be customized to particular sites, online communities in which people share species observations, and the use of crowdsourced data to refine machine-based identification algorithms. Next-generation field guides are user friendly; permit quality control and the revision of data; are scalable to accommodate burgeoning data; protect content and privacy while allowing broad public access; and are adaptable to ever-changing platforms and browsers. These tools have great potential to engage new audiences while fostering rigorous science and an appreciation for nature.

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This article is from BioScience 63 (2013): 891–899, doi:10.1525/bio.2013.63.11.8.

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