Mapping information gaps: towards and index of knowledge for every vertebrate species
5 March 13:00
Professor Dalia Conde
Professor Dalia Conde
Southern Denmack University, Director of Science Species360
Informed ignorance may be one of the greatest drivers for the advancement of science. Determining what is known and unknown is a key building block for powerful research tools. This is even more true in the data-driven world we live in today. Ninety percent of the data that exists worldwide has been created in the past six years. The proliferation of data is quickly outpacing our ability to interpret it, even with advanced analytics. The landscape of biodiversity data is no exception - deposition of gen-sequences in repositories, the standardization of data collected in the field, and citizen science are just some examples. Biodiversity databases, such as GBIF, CITES, or LPI are also proliferating, expanding knowledge but increasing the interpretation challenge.
However, very little has been done to map the knowledge gap for species. The core of evolutionary biology lays at the understanding of species life histories. Information on life histories is also critical for the development of species risk assessment and conservation policies. Even with advanced analytical tools, it is very difficult to extract and standardize this type of information to yield useful input for conservation planning.
Our vision is to develop a Species Index of Knowledge that can enable us to track in real-time, for every described species, how we are generating machine-readable data across the world to close the information gap. I have been working with collaborators around the globe to develop a Demographic Index of Species knowledge (DISKo) for all tetrapods, which scores every species’ demographic data availability. Our findings show a landscape of ignorance - only 1.3% of all species have significant survival information for conservation planning.
In exploring new ways to fill these knowledge gaps, we were particularly interested in using Species360 data as a way of finding the uncertainty, specifically the demographic records of more than 10 million individuals. Species360 manages ZIMS, which is both a software and real-time database supported by more than 1060 zoos and aquariums across the globe. We envision DISKo as the first exercise towards a Global Species Index of Knowledge.
This lecture will take place in the Oxford University History of Natural History.
There will be free nibbles and discussion between early career researchers and the speaker at Oxford University Club, 11 Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3SZ from 14:30.