Rapid advancements in the domains of computer Science and information technologies have allowed integration of biodiversity information and analytical capabilities to collaborate on social networks, leading to the emergence of a new discipline, Biodiversity Informatics. The dynamics in this discipline are defined by integrating multiplicity with the semantic web and enabling of democratic social networks focused on biodiversity. We are bound to see tremendous diversification in the scope of biodiversity informatics globally and in India.
Harnessing technology for aggregating, storing, querying and analyzing biodiversity data has seen major developments over the last decade. There has been a plethora of biodiversity information resources that include mailing lists and discussions groups, occurrence records, geographical databases, biodiversity image libraries, institutional databases, species description pages, specimen records of herbaria and museum databases, and biodiversity focused Internet sites. The challenges on the biodiversity informatics landscape are on two fronts: (1) A semantic web framework to link these biodiversity information islands; and (2) Effective and flexible data exchange standards for seamless information sharing among these sites.
The evolution of social networks and communities around biodiversity information systems has been a unique factor in influencing the ways in which these information systems have developed.
The assimilation and aggregation of user-generated biodiversity data and dissemination under the 'commons' principle has gained momentum globally. It has changed the way scientific collaborations are being made, and created possibilities for effective citizen-science initiatives. It is now possible to ask fresh questions, with more data, newer methods, better tools and for citizens to participate and report data from different geographies. With this, local-level data can be integrated with large-scale data leading to a better understanding of biodiversity.
With the increased penetration of the Internet into developing economies, and the widespread adoption of web technologies, biodiversity informatics has spawned an impressive variety of initiatives. These initiatives range from global knowledge bases and networks, national initiatives, eco-region based initiatives, as well as sharply focused initiatives which address a single species or event. There have been tangible advantages for stakeholders from these initiatives which has inspired many other endeavours. Success stories exist at both global and local level, and learning from these experiences can help one understand the multi-faceted nature of this discipline.
The Western Ghats Portal team is organising a one-day workshop to explore the contemporary state of biodiversity informatics as expressed in three spheres: i) technology behind biodiversity informatics, ii) scientific commons and policy and iii) biodiversity portals in India. With these objectives in mind, we welcome your active participation during the workshop. It could provide an opportunity for us to interact and learn from similar endeavors in this discipline.