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Electronic Field Guides and User Communities in the Eco-informatics Revolution

R. D. Stevenson, University of Massachusetts Boston
William A Haber, Missouri Botanical Garden
Robert Morris, UMASS Boston

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-00505-070103

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Abstract

The recognition that taxonomy is central to the conservation of biodiversity has reestablished the critical role of taxonomy in biology. However, many of the tools taxonomists produce for the identification and characterization of species, e.g., dichotomous keys, have been difficult to use and largely ignored by the general public in favor of field guides, which are essentially browsable picture guides. We review the role of field guides in species identification and discuss the application of a host of digital technologies to produce user-friendly tools for identification that are likely to greatly enhance species identification in the field by nonspecialists. We suggest that wider adoption of the citizen science model and the use of electronic field guides will enhance public understanding and participation in biodiversity monitoring.

Key words

bioinformatics, birding, citizen science, ecoinformatics, field biology, field guides, species identification, taxonomic keys, taxonomy

Copyright © 2003 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087