Universidad Central de Venezuela (2014)

Mobilizing Venezuelan Biodiversity Data

Project Details

Grant Amount: $100,000
Contact: Luis Joly
Contact Email: ljjoly atsign gmail.com
Funding Dates: 1/1/15 - 12/31/17
Project Links:

To see the original grant click here.


Museo del Instituto de Zoologia Agricola-Universidad Central de Venezuela (MIZA-UCV) has an important arthropod collection for the Neotropics, with over 4 million specimens and a very active taxonomic center with 11 researchers. Data about Venezuelan biodiversity from outside Venezuela is often of mixed quality, and MIZA-UCV is currently the only Venezuelan institution that has published data to global repositories (GBIF, EOL). This project aims to bring together four major Venezuelan institutions with important biodiversity data assets, build their capacities for proper data mobilization and train them as local biodiversity data nodes that will ultimately support other Venezuelan institutions in their efforts to digitize biodiversity data.

Key Objectives and Activities

The first objective is to build capacity in data mobilization for Natural History Collections, which will result in workshops on Data Mobilization and Georeferencing for Natural History Collections for participating institutions sharing data in this project, and perhaps other potential collections. The second objective is to mobilize legacy Arthropod collections from partners and make them publicly accessible through GBIF by 2017. The third objective is to standardize existing biodiversity datasets from IVIC, such as 9,000 bird and additional butterfly and dung beetle records.

Planned Outputs

  • There are five workshops planned for participating institutions and invited natural history collections. These are designed to transfer technology and know-how in current and standard techniques of digitization of collections and to demonstrate the benefits of making available high quality biodiversity data on the web.
  • Collections of butterflies and dragonflies from partner institutions added to data repositories.
  • At least 9,000 observation records of birds that will be shared through the GBIF platform.

Planned Outcomes

  • The datasets to be shared by this project will be used in different contexts such as undergraduate & graduate dissertations, formal publications on species distribution, ecological niche modeling, environmental policy generation, etc.
  • Using the data mobilization workshops, MIZA aims to educate the key biodiversity data holders in Venezuela on the current methods of digitization of natural history collections as well as how to make them publicly accessible.
  • The other component of this project, the mobilization of legacy arthropod data from MIZA, MALUZ, UCLA and IVIC, will give key institutions the necessary experience to mobilize additional data and to train other institutions.

Primary Software Platforms

Specify software will be used as the first step to digitize and georeference biodiversity data. Most of the species level information (species lists, bibliography and images when available) will be posted on thematically configured websites deployed in the Scratchpads platform.

Results to Date

Configuration of thematic data portals are completed and will be available as subdomains of www.miza-ucv.org.ve, depending on the group of organisms, for example the leaf beetle project is alive at chrysomelidae.miza-ucv.org.ve, for dragonflies they are planning odonata.miza-ucv.org.ve, and each group with important data holdings will be presented in that way.

Lessons Learned

Sustainable data capture activities are essential for all Natural History collections in Venezuela so that their data can be discoverable and used in multiple contexts.

Project Director Biography

Luis J. Joly, Curator of Coleoptera at MIZA-UCV, specialist in Longhorn beetles (Insecta, Coleoptera, Cerambycidae) with 47 research papers, five book chapters, over 40 meeting presentations, and several successful research grants with national institutions all related to this group of insects.

Notes from JRS

The predecessor grant to this project to Dr. Vilma Savini for Neotropical Leaf Beetles in 2012 was a great success. Though the grant was very productive, we were left with the strategic question of how to leverage the success of the grant beyond incremental digitization of records.  JRS hosts our regional grantees in Africa or Latin America each year for a symposium and the discussion there crystallized the idea of a follow on investment to transfer know-how and technology to other major Venezuelan institutions. The path may not be easy as we know that cultural changes are required for institutions to see and embrace the benefits of data sharing. We are optimistic that this work will be a significant step toward integration of global and national collections of Venezuelan biodiversity data and will enhance the value of existing collections.

Last Updated: February 28th, 2017

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