Phys .org: Scientists use machine-learning algorithms to help automate plant studies. “Father of genetics Gregor Mendel spent years tediously observing and measuring pea plant traits by hand in the 1800s to uncover the basics of genetic inheritance. Today, botanists can track the traits, or phenotypes, of hundreds or thousands of plants much more quickly, with automated camera systems. Now, Salk researchers have helped speed up plant phenotyping even more, with machine-learning algorithms that teach a computer system to analyze three-dimensional shapes of the branches and leaves of a plant.”
Florida Museum: Digital records of preserved plants and animals change how scientists explore the world. “There’s a whole world behind the scenes at natural history museums that most people never see. Museum collections house millions upon millions of dinosaur bones, pickled sharks, dried leaves, and every other part of the natural world you can think of–more than could ever be put on display. Instead, these specimens are used in research by scientists trying to understand how different kinds of life evolved and how we can protect them. And a new study in Plos One delves into how scientists are using digital records of all these specimens.”
California State University Long Beach: University’s Plant Collection Now Part Of National Database. “Up until recently, [Dr. Amanda] Fisher has had to rely largely on Cal State Long Beach’s collection of 18,00 physical specimens to conduct her research, dried local plants pressed onto 13×18 sheets on low-acid paper. If she wanted to view others from outside the Long Beach area, she would have to navigate the freeways. Today, however, with a few clicks of her computer mouse, Fisher, a professor in the biological sciences department, can study hundreds of thousands of digitized specimens from around the country online from a data base that now includes those collected by Cal State Long Beach researchers and students.”
Xinhua: China launches online database on camellia varieties. “The database has more than 45,000 names and 33,000 pictures of camellia varieties including ornamental, tea and oil species. Users can search the name of camellia varieties in different languages including English, Chinese and Japanese.” Unfortunately the story does not have a link to the database, which is here: http://camellia.iflora.cn/ .
Quartz: Pl@ntNet is the world’s best social network . “Pl@ntNet (pronounced plant-net) is the only social app that always makes me happier. Likened to Shazam for plants, it was developed a decade ago by a consortium of computer science and botanical research institutions in France. In almost every way, Pl@ntNet is unlike other social networks.”
The Island Connection: Town Of Kiawah Island Releases Grow Native Plant Database. “The database was designed to help promote the use of native plants on the island and serve as a resource for residents, landscapers, landscape architects, landscape designers, and other entities. This searchable database includes native trees, shrubs, perennials, vines, ferns, and grasses and allows users to filter and find plants based on a variety of criteria, including plant type, size, light requirements, soil requirements, flower color, salt tolerance, deer resistance, and more. There are currently 196 plants in the database, but the list will be expanded over time.” I know this is just for one city, but what an unbelievable project and great way to get residents to assist in addressing ecosystem conservation and development.
Indiana University: Indiana University Herbarium completes massive plant digitization project. “Indiana University has completed work to make publicly available its collection of more than 160,000 preserved plant specimens, including over 72,000 specimens representing Indiana flora.”