A relatively new field, biodiversity informatics is the creation, integration, analysis and understanding of information regarding biological diversity.
Efforts are underway to make the vast, decentralised resources of global biodiversity information available in digital form, but imposing consistency and compatibility among the scores of searchable databases on the world’s biota is an enormous challenge, Missouri Botanical Garden officials said.
The new Center for Biodiversity Informatics is led by Director Chris Freeland and funded through $3.9 million in grants and contracts from federal agencies and private foundations, said Julie Bierach, a garden spokeswoman.
CBI, which has five employees and three project-based consultants, will work with researchers around the world to mobilise biodiversity data to support scientists’ research; increase usability of biodiversity information by advocating the open and transparent publication of data; and encourage responsible stewardship of biodiversity information through adoption of community standards, according to Missouri Botanical Garden officials.“By putting this core information about what plants exist on the planet, and detailed information about where they’re collected and the environment around them, you give this wealth of data that can be inserted in other people’s scholarship for studies like conservation assessments, tracking invasive species, land management practices, and many other kinds of research,
” Freeland said in a statement. “This really is core science that other researchers need to have access to, and we’re making those data available for that use.”
In September, Dr. Peter Raven is stepping down after 40 years as Missouri Botanical Garden
president. Dr. Peter Wyse Jackson, director of the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland
in Dublin and former Secretary General of BGCI, will succeed him.