Thursday, September 2, 2010


Citizen cyberscience projects don't just help physicists and astronomers. Scientists from all sorts of disciplines can benefit from the efforts put in by citizens across the world.

A Herbaria@home specimen
With this in mind, this morning we heard from Tom Humphrey of the Botanical Society of the British Isles who explained how volunteers are helping to classify UK plant specimens.

His project, Herbaria@Home, asks volunteers to decipher plant specimen labels, providing information such as site name and date. This allows botanists to map these plants and track the spread (or not) of species across the UK. This provides vital biodiversity information which can be used for future studies of taxonomy, ecology, conservation and genetic biodiversity.

For hard-to-read handwritten labels volunteers need an opportunity to collaborate and discuss with each other, so like many other successful projects Herbaria@home has a very active message board. All information provided by volunteers is open to peer review and can be edited, with the public edit history accessible to all.

As an added bonus, uploading these plant specimens onto the internet for analysis, means that Herbaria@home is opening up museums' collections of plant material, which are otherwise largely inaccessible.

To date Herbaris@home has classified a total of 70,000 species and looks set to continue well into the future.

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