The Barcode Blog

A mostly scientific blog about short DNA sequences for species identification and discovery. I encourage your commentary. -- Mark Stoeckle

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International barcoders get into print

iBOLlogoNow that 3rd International Barcode of Life Conference (held in November 2009 in Mexico City with over 350 researchers from 54 countries) is behind us, where to turn for DNA barcode science and organizational news? A bright answer arrived in today’s email: the first issue of the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) Bulletin (download pdf or view online flash version). The 12-page illustrated quarterly iBOL newsletter has a promising diversity of news. To take one example, I learned that some members of the North American Moth Photographers Group (MPG) are submitting their hard-to-identify specimens to Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, thus building up the reference library, and in turn receiving DNA-based identifications! This sort of crowd-sourcing approach to specimen collection could be a big thing for barcoding in particular, and for biodiversity science in general. There are many dedicated, expert, non-professionals who are likely to contribute given the right framework.

iBOL-Barcode-Bulletin1In terms of citizen participation, the MPG story suggests expanding opportunities for biological research that harnesses the skill and energy of non-professionals, a step beyond the successful BioBlitz model, which still requires a lot of on-site organization. If North American birders can create a comprehensive, regularly-updated database documenting migration, i.e. eBird (1 1/2 to 2 million sightings submitted monthly), then there must be a large potential for crowd-sourcing specimen collection, at least for certain organisms. After all, the most expensive part of biodiversity science is often collecting and/or documenting specimens. How to encourage and streamline data collection is suggested by Cornell University’s recently-released iPhone app BirdsEye, which displays current local sightings based on eBird database and user’s GPS location, with planned update that will enable birders to instantly update eBird with their own sightings.

The Barcode Bulletin aims to “inform and entertain iBOL collaborators, the global DNA barcoding community and the wider world of biodiversity genomics”; this issue is a promising start.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 26th, 2010 at 1:07 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “International barcoders get into print”

  1. AlexD Says:

    Registration open for 2nd European Barcode of Life Conference, 2 – 4 June 2010 Braga, Portugal ->


About this site

This web site is an outgrowth of the Taxonomy, DNA, and Barcode of Life meeting held at Banbury Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, September 9-12, 2003. It is designed and managed by Mark Stoeckle, Perrin Meyer, and Jason Yung at the Program for the Human Environment (PHE) at The Rockefeller University.

About the Program for the Human Environment

The involvement of the Program for the Human Environment in DNA barcoding dates to Jesse Ausubel's attendance in February 2002 at a conference in Nova Scotia organized by the Canadian Center for Marine Biodiversity. At the conference, Paul Hebert presented for the first time his concept of large-scale DNA barcoding for species identification. Impressed by the potential for this technology to address difficult challenges in the Census of Marine Life, Jesse agreed with Paul on encouraging a conference to explore the contribution taxonomy and DNA could make to the Census as well as other large-scale terrestrial efforts. In his capacity as a Program Director of the Sloan Foundation, Jesse turned to the Banbury Conference Center of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, whose leader Jan Witkowski prepared a strong proposal to explore both the scientific reliability of barcoding and the processes that might bring it to broad application. Concurrently, PHE researcher Mark Stoeckle began to work with the Hebert lab on analytic studies of barcoding in birds. Our involvement in barcoding now takes 3 forms: assisting the organizational development of the Consortium for the Barcode of Life and the Barcode of Life Initiative; contributing to the scientific development of the field, especially by studies in birds, and contributing to public understanding of the science and technology of barcoding and its applications through improved visualization techniques and preparation of brochures and other broadly accessible means, including this website. While the Sloan Foundation continues to support CBOL through a grant to the Smithsonian Institution, it does not provide financial support for barcoding research itself or support to the PHE for its research in this field.