Friday, February 8, 2013

Photography Update: photos, photographers and experts

The BC atlases, E-Flora BC and E-Fauna BC, are important for their distribution maps that show where species occur, when they were documented, and who documented them. For many invasive species, they can show when they first appeared in the province, and for rare species they can show just how rare a species is.

But for many of us, it's the photographs that really make the atlases come alive.   They present our flora and fauna in their homes, finding food, flowering or setting seed, and moving about the landscape.  From fabulous photos of Kermode bears to colourful gentians, the photos are a window on our wild species. And it's thanks to a volunteer army of photo contributors that we are able to provide thousands of photos of thousands of species found in British Columbia.  Every photo counts, every contribution counts, and if coordinates are sent in with photos, each photo counts even more.  We can map these photo records and add more locations to our maps, filling in critical knowledge about incoming species, invasive species, range expansions, and new records for new species.  This citizen science component on the atlases is an important hub in data collecting for BC, and an important and growing hub of activity.

The photo sections on E-Flora and E-Fauna BC are growing rapidly, with nearly 23,000 photos now posted on E-Flora BC and nearly 15,000 on E-Fauna BC, and many more waiting for review by experts before publishing. These photos represent the efforts of 494 photographers on E-Flora BC and 394 on E-Fauna. That's a huge cooperative effort on the part of many people, and many photos are now submitted with coordinates so the records can be mapped.  Geographers call this sort of information Volunteered Geographic Information, and it is a rapidly growing component of the atlases.

Who are our busiest photographers?

While we have hundreds of people contributing photos to E-Flora and E-Fauna BC, a few folks lead the pack. Their contributions to our knowledge base on BC Biodiversity are outstanding, and in all cases their photo records represent significant scientific documentation and illustration. On E-Fauna BC, our top two photographers with the greatest number of submissions are Norbert Kondla (butterflies) and Aaron Baldwin (marine invertebrates), each with 1041 photographs now posted on the site.  They are closely followed by Rick and Libby Avis (moths and other insects) with 950 photos.  On E-Flora BC, Jim Riley leads the submissions, with 3451 photos now submitted, followed by Jamie Fenneman with 3086 submissions.  Next up are Adolf Ceska (1341), Curtis Bjork (1305), and Michael Beug (1295).

Who are the experts who help us out?

Identifications of species in all of our photos are vetted by experts who donate their time to the projects to help us make them as accurate as we possible. This can be time-consuming and challenging, as identification from photos can be difficult. It takes an expert often to be sure of what is in a photo before we post it and map the record. We are indebted  for this to a very long list of experts.

E-Flora BC

The following experts provide ongoing identification support to E-Flora BC:  Rene Belland (bryophytes), Michael Beug (fungi), Curtis Bjork (lichens and vascular plants), Kent Brothers (fungi and slime molds), Jamie Fenneman (vascular plants and liverworts), Ian Gibson (fungi), Jim Ginns (fungi), Trevor Goward (lichens), Michael Joya (bryophytes), Frank Lomer (vascular plants), Terry McIntosh (bryophytes), Wilf Schofield (bryophytes), Terry Taylor (fungi).

E-Fauna BC: 

The following experts provide ongoing identification support to E-Fauna BC: Bill Austin (sponges), Libby Avis (moths), Aaron Baldwin (marine invertebrates, marine fish), Robb Bennett (spiders), Mattias Buck (Hymenoptera), Rob Cannings (insects), Cris Guppy (butterflies), Jamie Fenneman (birds), Robert Forsyth (land snails and slugs, bivalves), Jeremy Gatten (dragonflies), Henri Goulet (sawflies), Gordon Green (crustaceans), Patrick Gregory (reptiles and amphibians), Andy Hamilton (cicadas), James Hammond (beetles), Jennifer Heron (insects), Rob Higgins (ants), Andrew Jensen (aphids), Philip Lambert (sea stars), Gerry Mackie (freshwater clams), Brent Matsuda (reptiles and amphibians), Sandra Millen (nudibranchs), Neil McDaniel (sponges), William Moser (leeches), James Miskelly (Orthoptera), Karen Needham (insects), David Nagorsen (mammals), Greg Pohl (moths), Chris Schmidt (moths), David Shackleton (hoofed mammals), Rowland Shelley (millipedes), Eric Taylor (fish), Robbin Thorp (bumble bees), Andrew Young (flower flies).

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