Oct 14-15, 2021. (Re)discovering known biodiversity imprisoned in scientific publications

October 14-15, 2021: Southern African Society for Systematic Biology Webinar and workshop

(Re)discovering known biodiversity imprisoned in scientific publications

Scholarly knowledge about biodiversity is documented in hundreds of millions of pages of scientific literature. This includes original descriptions of all species on earth, and the chain of taxonomic treatments that might follow them, linked by citation. These treatments include statements about species distribution, behavior, life forms, ecology, conservation status, and changes to species limits through splitting or synonymy. Each taxonomic name has at least one taxonomic treatment, a well delimited section in a scholarly publication. Linking a taxonomic name to the respective treatment allows a potential entry point to all other knowledge about that species within the digital realm. This not only provides immediate online access, but it can save tremendous time and effort for researchers.

Plazi is a Swiss NGO with the mission to liberate data from taxonomic publications and make it openly and immediately accessible. It is a virtual organization with a production facility in Porto Alegre, Brazil. It maintains two research infrastructures, TreatmentBank and the Biodiversity Literature Repository, which liberate data and provide long term access respectively.

Currently, Plazi has liberated over 600,000 taxonomic treatments and 400,000 figures from over 65,000 articles. Data can be analysed and assessed for article and treatment level data. Quality controlled data is available permanently on the Biodiversity Literature Repository or via applications providing a general image (Ocellus) or taxonomic names (Synospecies) based access.

These data are increasingly reused. Plazi provides over 55% of datasets to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), making it the largest single dataset provider, and is the sole source of over 80,000 species names from its publications mediated data. Over 489 publications have been based on these data to date. Plazi has developed tools to liberate data that are openly accessible, and is opening up courses to allow partners to make use of these tools and infrastructure to process their specific publications, such as those covering a particular taxon or geographic region, or published by a natural history institution.

This presentation will provide an overview of Plazi, its data and processing, and thoughts on how to involve the community.

Further information