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Annotating biodiversity data via the Internet

Tschöpe, O., Macklin, J.A., Morris, R.A., Suhrbier, L., Berendsohn, W.G. (2013). Annotating biodiversity data via the Internet, 62(6), 1248-1258.


Biological specimens in research collections provide the most important baseline information for systematic research. Traditionally, they are annotated by experts in written form, which remains directly associated with the specimens. These annotations, defined as data added at a later stage to the original data, provide an important quality control mechanism. They improve the value of herbarium specimens and are identification trails documenting the development of taxonomic concepts over time. With specimen data increasingly becoming accessible via the Internet, a general online annotation system that ensures that the traditional data sharing and documentation of specimen data is continued after the information is mobilised through digitisation, is currently missing. We lay out the prerequisites for such an annotation system including data standards, a data repository, system access, and user roles. We also introduce an exemplar solution developed in the DFG-funded Anno- Sys project. AnnoSys is being implemented using the example of collection and observation data in the botanical domain as provided by the GBIF/BioCASe networks. It provides a user-friendly interface to allow researchers to produce and discover annotations. If a record has been annotated, both the annotation and the original record will be stored in a repository, linked via a persistent identifier, and will be accessible through the AnnoSys interfaces. Collection holders and scientists specifically interested in a subset of data will be informed about annotations in which they have expressed interest. We discuss AnnoSys in relation to the FilteredPush project, which pursues the same goal in facilitating and communicating online annotations, but which takes a different approach.

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