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Have you wondered about Seek? A Review of the Seek App

by Aimee Bonanno

Seek by iNaturalist is a fun, safe way to engage kids and beginners in exploring local biodiversity with an interface half way between game and citizen science. Seek does not collect, use, or disclose personal information. Geo location is blurred so exact location of street name, even city is not identifiable. It also does not generate or share information with iNaturalist, but it does get information from iNaturalist. If you merely want to explore biodiversity nearby, it is a great way to learn about what you are seeing or what others have seen nearby.

To use the app, you simply take photos of the plants, animals, and fungi you encounter. When starting there is a friendly reminder to be safe while gathering your photos. To reward you and make it fun, there are many badges to earn. There is a series of badges for number of observations, and then badges for your first, fifth, and twenty-fifth observation of 9 different taxa. The app keeps count of what you’ve seen, how many species, and how many badges you have. The badges are the game part of it and encourage users to look for a variety of life.

The app uses the image recognition technology of iNaturalist. Once you take a picture, the app recognizes the species and adds it to your collection. A big drawback is that if the picture you take is not recognized, there is no way for you to enter it. Each species that is in your collection or that has been seen nearby will show up as a tile. Clicking on the tile will open more information on the species: common and scientific name, taxon, map, a graph of when sightings have been recorded, a blurb from wikipedia, and an observation count from iNaturalist. For example, I’ve shown below the Eastern Gray Squirrel information.

This app seems to be a way for iNaturalist to improve its image recognition capability and a way for novices and students to have fun learning about what else is living around them. It is currently only available on iOS devices, hopefully beta tests will soon be complete for Android.

   

One Species at a Time Podcasts from EOL

For those of you who enjoyed the Podcast of Life audio series featuring marine species…..The Encyclopedia of Life (www.eol.org) is launching a second series of podcasts called “One Species at a Time” with a focus on biodiversity and public participation. Each podcast features a 3-5 minute audio report, a Meet the Scientist feature and an Extra’s page with interesting information, as well as ways for listeners to connect with biodiversity.  The first podcast features Four-Leaf Clovers  (White clover,Trifolium repens) Coming soon a podcast featuring Bowhead Whales!

Listen here! http://education.eol.org/podcast/four-leaf-clover

The podcasts are also available on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/one-species-at-a-time/id386954489

For more information, visit: http://education.eol.org/podcast

Census of Marine Life Papers Published

Census of Marine Life scientists just released an inventory of species distribution and diversity in key global ocean areas. Scientists combined information collected over centuries with data obtained during the decade-long Census to create a roll call of species in 25 biologically representative regions — from the Antarctic through temperate and tropical seas to the Arctic. Their papers help set a baseline for measuring changes that humanity and nature will cause.

The recent Census papers were published as a collection entitled “Marine Biodiversity and Biogeography — Regional Comparisons of Global Issues” in the Public Library of Science. Gulf of Maine scientists, Dr. Lewis Incze and Nicholas Wolff, are co-authors one of these PLoS articles, Overview of Marine Biodiversity in United States Waters by Daphne Fautin et al.

Global biodiversity maps and links to more Census research that appeared in Nature (July 28) can be found in the Wired Science article, Warming of Oceans Will Reduce and Rearrange Marine Life.

Online Resource – Podcast of Life

The Encyclopedia of Life’s Education and Learning Group announces a new biweekly podcast, the Podcast of Life, Podcastium vitae. Beginning with a cache of 13 episodes and hosted by Ari Daniel Shapiro, the first in the series features the North Atlantic Right Whale. In addition to links to classroom resources, each episode offers ways for students to call in or record online to add their voices and ideas to the Podcast of Life.

3rd Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative Conference – Call for Papers

The 3rd Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative Conference will be held September 19, 2009, at the Egan Maritime Institute at the Historic Coffin School, 4 Winter Street, Nantucket, MA.  Any person or organization who has conducted biodiversity related research on Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, Long Island or other similar habitats is invited to apply for a place on the program either for an oral (15 min plus 5 min for questions) or poster presentation. Please submit abstract no later than 11 August 2009. Questions: Please contact Bob Kennedy at rkennedy@mmo.org or 508-228-1782 or any member of the Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative Committee.

Gulf of Maine Area-Census of Marine Life Newsletter

July 29, 2009

CALENDAR: Gulf of Maine Symposium – Early registration ends July 31st

Early registration ends Friday, July 31st for the Gulf of Maine Symposium, to be held in scenic St Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick, October 4-9, 2009.

GoMA will host a one-day workshop on Biodiversity in the Gulf of Maine on Monday, October 5th.  We invite members of the science, management and conservation communities to join us.

The symposium is sponsored by the Regional Association for Research on the Gulf of Maine, in collaboration with COMPASS, Department of Fisheries and Oceans – St. Andrews Biological Station, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, and the Gulf of Maine Area – Census of Marine Life.

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS: Isles of Shoals (NH), Platts Bank (ME), Cobscook Bay (ME) and Discovery Corridor (Canada)

Here are a few highlights of summer research activities from our partners:

Leading a team of students at Shoals Marine Lab, marine archaeologists Nate Hamilton and Ingrid Brack (photo) found evidence of prehistoric Native Americans on Smuttynose Island, Isles of Shoals, New Hampshire.

Studies of biological hotspots – areas teeming with marine life – continue at Platts Bank, an off-shore bank 30 miles east of Portland, Maine.

Sampling of intertidal and nearshore species continues in Cobscook Bay, near the Maine/Canadian border.

A two-week cruise is underway in the Discovery Corridor, from the shores of the Bay of Fundy to the deep sea.  A 2008 National Geographic video shows you what this Canadian project is all about.

PUBLICATIONS: Recent papers on ecosystem dynamics

Gulf of Maine researchers have published two recent papers on changing ecosystem dynamics and fish communities using decades and centuries worth of data:

Using fish survey data from 1963 to the present, Peter Auster and Jason Link co-authored Compensation and recovery of feeding guilds in a northwest Atlantic shelf fish community (April 30, 2009, Marine Ecology Progress Series ).  The abstract begins “Disturbance by fishing activities in marine ecosystems has resulted in significant shifts in the distribution, abundance and diversity of fish communities.” Dr. Auster (photo) is a key contributor to the GoMA Census of Marine Life.

Based on historic records dating back to 1630, a team of researchers led by Stefan Claesson and Andy Rosenberg published their final report on Stellwagen Bank Marine Historical Ecology (2009, Gulf of Maine Cod Project, UNH). Dr. Rosenberg is a project leader for the Historical Marine Animal Populations of the Census of Marine Life. Recent guest lecturers and historians, Karen Alexander and Bill Leavenworth, contributed to the report.

Congratulations to all on their significant contributions to our understanding of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem.

EDUCATION NEWS: Student video wins national recognition

A poignant and well-produced video, Our Oceans, Our World , by high school students Eric Kao and Jorie Heilman of Lexington, Mass. captured the admiration of regional and national judges.  The winning video will be on display at the Smithsonian’s Ocean Hall throughout the year.  The winner and runners-up can be viewed on our website – kudos to all who participated in the contest.

Living on the Ocean Planet video contest is a project of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, initiated by GoMA and co-sponsored by the Census of Marine Life.

Editor’s Note

A special thanks to Census of Marine Life scientist, Dr. Michael Sinclair of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, NS for his recent interview for our blog, Celebrating Darwin.  In Part 1, Reflections on Darwin , Dr. Sinclair discussed how scientific theories come to be, and in Part 2, Music and Darwin,  how music inspired – and was inspired by – Darwin.

As part of our ongoing celebration of Darwin’s 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of Origin of Species, we invite colleagues to contribute to our blog in the coming months.  If interested, please contact Susan Ryan.

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Researchers Looking For New Forms of Marine Life, Clues to Deep-Sea Communities

A team of researchers, led by NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, is surveying an underwater mountain chain in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean to study its biodiversity. The international research team is working aboard the 208-foot NOAA ship Henry B. Bigelow as part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge Ecosystem Project, or MAR-ECO. This project is one of 14 field programs that are part of the Census of Marine Life, a 10-year global study of the abundance, distribution and diversity of marine life in the world’s oceans. The Census began in 2000 and seeks, by 2010, to determine what lives in the ocean and how this life has changed with time. More information about the expedition is available online.