Using Collections to Engage Volunteers: iDigBio presentation at OBFS

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Slide 1

I am the Asst. Manager of UC Berkeley’s Sagehen Creek Field Station. Sagehen began in 1951. I came in 2001.

Slide 2

We had been told that ours was a good teaching collection, with no particular value otherwise. We really didn’t have any plan for our collections, and little sense of their worth. We figured our collection was too small to be of much use beyond educating school kids and botanists, so that’s what we used it for.

Slide 3

We’d had other volunteers, of course, but they tended to have no direction and wanted heavy hand-holding. Erica came to us after finishing up her undergrad education in museum science. She wanted to keep her skills sharp while deciding what to do next. We asked her to fix our bear, then handed her the collections when she asked for another project, saying, “What do you think?”

Slide 4

At about the same time, we were starting to offer CalNat certification training. This growing cadre of activist volunteers needed projects, during and after courses.

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There was no plan, it just started growing, using volunteers, found partners, cheap available tech, open source software and web tools. Specimens mounted/curated, photographed/scanned, labels transcribed, data shared.

Slide 6

Erica & I, other volunteers began plant-hunting to fill gaps in our herbarium and verify our basin plant list…

Slide 7

In addition to the 9000-acres of the Sagehen Experimental Forest, we manage research on 20,000-acres in the headwaters of the N. Fork of the American River. These properties are difficult to access. We moved our collecting over to these other research properties where there is historic botanical activity, but not much research use. They wanted research, and to share what they already knew, but with a light visitation footprint. We’d been stumped, but collections finally provided that.

Slide 8

As we photographed our vouchers before we collected them, we realized that “collections” didn’t have to mean just voucher specimens (physical collecting isn’t always desirable). And that there was data we could get no other way than with volunteer citizen scientists. We adopted iNaturalist as our CitSci platform. Explain iNat: georeferenced photos = research data; observation separated from expertise, so anyone can participate.

Slide 9

General obs, Projects, BioBlitz. Moving forward, this documents species movement within the basin in response to climate change. Citizen Science is not crappy data, and it’s not a compromise; the data can be unique.

Slide 10

65 years, a Master’s thesis on our botany, a Madrono paper, etc. I know what you’re thinking: invasive weeds! No. Volunteers are simply around more, & can cover more area in more seasons. There’s no other way to get this kind of data—you can’t afford to buy it, and graduate students only last a few seasons. Our collections provide a meaningful framework for collecting observations.

Slide 11

Beyond it’s utility to us as a teaching tool, a focus for volunteers, and an expansion of our understanding of the basin, our digitized collections data is being accessed.

Slide 12

Both iNat obs and our other shared collections data is being found by researchers who track species of interest.

Slide 13

A classic metric for success of any field station program: is it generating publications? Yes!

Slide 14

Is passion discovered or created? Doesn’t matter whether volunteers find it, or make it at our places. Some of your passions you won’t really know until you encounter them. But, you can’t be passionate about what you don’t find meaningful.

Slide 15

So, let them know! Collections digitization and volunteer data collection helps support the university and field station missions of Research, Education, and Public Service. Unexpectedly, our collections program has quickly grown into a very dynamic and productive thing we do at Sagehen.

Slide 1

Engaging citizen scientists Through digitized collections

Slide 2

Sagehen teaching COLLECTIONS Developed 1951-c.1970

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Our first victim… Erica Krimmel

Slide 4

CALIFORNIA NATURALIST certification training

Slide 5

curation, DIGITIZation, sharing… with the aid of volunteers, free tools, new partners

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…AND EXPAnsion! 60+ new voucher specimen firsts for Sagehen herbarium (10+ species new to the basin list) 200+ new vouchers for the North Fork of the American River (17+ species new to that basin list)

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Relationships strengthened with associated research properties, campus Historical family collection scanned; Biota list expanded; Herbarium collection begun; Research requests triggered.

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iNaturalist Citizen science Public engagement, new research data, validation of biota lists, discovery of new species

Slide 9

Documenting basin biota Since 2012… 3700+ OBSERVATIONS 575+ SPECIES 95+ CONTRIBUTORS We’re getting species verification, plus distribution and movement data for the first time ever.

Slide 10

New species discovered! even after 65-years of collecting in the Sagehen basin Arceuthobium abietinum, Epilobium howellii, Antennaria geyeri, Cordylanthus tenuis, Artemisia tridentata subsp. wyomingensis, Elodea canadensis, Ptychostomum pseudotriquetum, Ranunculus aquatilis, Securigera varia, Grindelia camporum, Warnstorfia exannulatum, Actaea Rubra, Maianthemum racemosum, Solchus oleraceus, Crepis occidentalis, Asclepius speciosa, etc. (and, most are neither tiny, nor weeds!)

Slide 11

Our Data is being used via participation in regional, national and international biodiversity databases

Slide 12

Research requests triggered New Ceanothus hybrid Mimulus niche adaptation Population modeling of Speyeria (fritillaries) Sierra red fox genetics Collections provide a source of isotopes and DNA (sometimes)

Slide 13

Data publication in regional, national and international biodiversity databases, including GBIF, Calflora, BISON, California Consortium of Herbaria (CCH), Symbiota, Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology (BIGCB), etc. Master’s thesis (Krimmel, 2014). Collections Activity Report, 2014 (Krimmel, 2014). Peck, Cook, 2013. Systematics and distributions of the genera Cyrtusa Erichson, Ecarinosphaerula Hatch, Isoplastus Horn, Liocyrtusa Daffner, Lionothus Brown, and Zeadolopus Broun of the United States and Canada (Coleoptera: Leiodidae: Leiodinae: Leiodini). Insecta Mundi, Articles 0310-0313. Trager 2013b. Global revision of the dulotic ant genus Polyergus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Formicinae: Formicini). Zootaxa 3722: 501–548. Graening, Shcherbanyuk, Arghandiwal, 2014. Annotated Checklist of the Diplura (Hexapoda: Entognatha) of California. Zootaxa 3780 (2): 297-322. Kanturski, Weiczorek, 2015. A new species of the nearctic gall-forming genus Tamalia Baker (Hemiptera: Aphididae: Tamaliinae). Zootaxa 3926(2):268-278. Rosa, Vårdal, 2015. An annotated catalogue of the types of Chrysididae (Hymenoptera) at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, with brief historical notes. Zookeys (495): 79–132 More! We’re getting new Publications

Slide 14

Passion created or discovered? Purpose – a calling in life, the reason you get up every morning Flow – getting into a rhythm with your activity, losing time, performing Pleasure – savoring and mindfulness of where you are at right now People crave passion, and in an increasingly challenging budget world… Field stations and museums desperately need passionate supporters!

Slide 15

Small Collections are Important! Volunteers need to know that their contribution is meaningful UNIVERSITY MISSION: RESEARCH EDUCATION PUBLIC SERVICE

Slide 17

Contact us! Faerthen Felix ffelix@berkeley.edu

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