Filling the gaps in Lacunas

ResearchBlogging.orgA paper in Biodiversity and Conservation caught my eye: “Lacunas: a web interface to identify plant knowledge gaps to support informed decision-making.”1 I knew that Brazilian biodiversity researchers had been working hard on bringing their data together, and this sounded like the information was now ready to be put to some use:

SpeciesLink’s thematic network, INCT-Virtual Herbarium of Plants and Fungi and the List of Species of the Brazilian Flora, are used as primary data sources to develop Lacunas, an information system with a public web interface that generates detailed reports of the status of plant species occurrence data. Lacunas also integrates information about endemism, conservation status, and collecting efforts over time.

I couldn’t resist doing a quick roadtest of Lacunas, of course. It’s available in both Portuguese and English, and it has a simple, intuitive interface, so it wasn’t a chore. Naturally I selected a crop wild relative: Oryza grandiglumis (Döll) Prod.

You get a nice map. And a bunch of tables summarizing various statistics (both for the exact species name and for phonetically similar species names, which is a nice touch):

  • Number of records per year collected
  • Total number of records available in different herbaria in the speciesLink network
  • Total number of records available in the speciesLink network by georeferencing status
  • Total number of records available in the speciesLink network with distinct geographic coordinates

I grabbed a screenshot of one of the tables, because that was the only way I could see to save the results, and I thought I might blog about Lacunas one day. It was a pity about that saving thing, though, because the statistics the portal provides are genuinely useful in giving an idea of the quality and quantity of the data we have on different species in Brazil. For example, for our wild rice there are 31 records in all, but only 4 have original georeferences. Fortunately, for 15 of those that don’t have original latitude and longitude coordinates, it was possible to infer georeferences from other associated data. But that still leaves a significant number of herbarium specimens which cannot be used in mapping the distribution of the species. Anyway, I left a comment to that effect on the website. Then I moved on to other stuff, and the blogging got pushed down the to-do list, what with one thing and another.

Imagine my surprise then when I got notification of a fix within a couple of days. A fix which allows me to link to a results page, rather than include that clunky screengrab here. And imagine my further surprise when the guy who provided the fix turned out to be an old friend. Small world. Anyway, thanks to Sidnei for the help, and the chat.

Now, it would be great to compare the Lacunas data with those in the Crop Wild Relatives Global Atlas. But first I need to convince the developers of that incredible resource to make sharing results a little easier.

  1. Dora Ann Lange Canhos et al. (2014). Lacunas: a web interface to identify plant knowledge gaps to support informed decision-making
    Biodiversity and Conservation DOI: 10.1007/s10531-013-0587-0

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