Two post-doctoral fellowships in Biodiversity Informatics available
Two post-doctoral fellowships in Biodiversity Informatics available
The South African National Biodiversity Institue (SANBI), in collaboration with the University of the Western Cape, are advertising two post-doctoral fellowships in biodiversity informatics. This is an exciting opportunity to advance the research and capacity development work in biodiversity informatics in South Africa as well as for our African partners. The fellowships will be based at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town.
Two new Biodiversity Informatics training courses to be held in South Africa
Building Biodiversity Informatics Institutions Training Course
This course is rather specialized in the spectrum of courses that will be given as part of the Biodiversity Informatics Training Curriculum project, as it focuses on development and establishment of institutions that focus on biodiversity informatics. As a consequence, we envision participants as individuals who are more advanced, with the potential to participate in and promote creation of such institutions. See Mexico's CONABIO (http://www.conabio.gob.mx/), Brazil's CRIA (http://www.cria.org.br/), Costa Rica's INBio (http://www.inbio.ac.cr/en/), Colombia's Humboldt Institute (http://www.humboldt.org.co/iavh/), Australia's Atlas of Living Australia (http://www.ala.org.au/), and South Africa's SANBI (http://www.sanbi.org/), all examples of such institutions, albeit very different from one to the next. For this course, we will have as 'experts' several personalities who have participated in the establishment of such institutions providing commentary and insight into the process, and giving ideas and strategies for establishment of such institutions in other regions and countries. Special focus will be placed on situations particular to developing-world countries. The course will take place 23-26 July 2013, in Cape Town, South Africa. Potential applicants should note that all courses will be taught in English, but that we will make every effort to accommodate French-speaking applicants as well, via translation if possible. Web link for applications: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHFIdk1WY2d2aDZCRDdrV2tjV3JEblE6MQ#gid=0
Biodiversity Informatics Data Analysis Training Course
Biodiversity data can be used in a wide diversity of analyses to provide very useful insights. One of these uses—ecological niche modeling and the related species distribution modeling—is the focus of one of the just-completed Nairobi courses (February 2012), but many other analyses can be carried out. This next course will provide an overview of and introduction to a suite of additional analyses: place prioritization, survey gap analysis and inventory completeness metrics, species inventories, macroecological analyses, etc., presented by experts from the USA, Mexico, Brazil, and elsewhere. The diversity of topics should be quite rewarding, as many of them are interrelated and interconnected. The course will include conceptual overviews, detailed instructions for implementation, and as much hands-on exploration as possible. The course will take place 29 July - 2 August 2013, in Cape Town, South Africa. Potential applicants should note that all courses will be taught in English, but that we will make every effort to accommodate French-speaking applicants as well, via translation if possible. Web link for applications: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHh1UE9QQU5pU2ZYNHY5Mk5KdFc1NGc6MQ#gid=0
GBIF Young Researchers Award
Submission date: 31 January 2013
The objective of the Young Researchers Award is to foster innovative research and discovery in biodiversity informatics by graduate students in masters and doctorate programmes at universities in countries participating in the GBIF network. The award enables outreach to universities and stimulates use of GBIF enabled data.
The call for proposals provides prospective applicants with more information regarding the requirements for submission and details of the selection process.
Submissions should be through the GBIF Head of Delegation or Node Manager in the country where the applicant's studies are registered.
The Ebbe Nielsen Prize
Submission date: 31 January 2013
The Ebbe Nielsen Prize is an annual prize established by the GBIF Governing Board to honour the memory of Ebbe Schmidt Nielsen, who was an inspirational leader in the fields of biosystematics and biodiversity informatics and one of the driving leaders promoting the establishment of GBIF.
The Prize is primarily intended to be awarded to a promising researcher in the early stage of his/her career (although it does not preclude the nomination of a later-career researcher) who combines biosystematics and biodiversity informatics research in an exciting and novel way.
The final nomination to GBIF will be made by the SABIF Head of Delegation, Dr Tanya Abrahamse.
If you would like to see more about the prize, its history and previous winner please click here.
Unlocking local government biodiversity information: new frontiers in biodiversity informatics
Local governments are critical contributors to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and attainment of the Aichi Targets. They also have access to a wealth of fine-scale biodiversity data, which if shared in a consistent format, enable effective policy implementation at a local level, as well as contributing to improved data resolution across the landscape. Free and open access to these data will result in evidence-based science and informed decision-making at all levels.
Local government data publishing came to the forefront at the CBD COP11 held in Hyderabad, first at the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) side event on 8 October: “From the sidelines, to the mainstream: engaging newer communities in biodiversity data publishing,”. There Russell Galt, ICLEI – Cities Biodiversity Center, Manager of Policy, Strategy and Development, highlighted some of the opportunities and constraints experienced by local governments using biodiversity data to influence management decisions on the ground. In another event, the Cities for Life: City and Subnational Biodiversity Summit on 16 October, Tim Hirsch, Senior Programme Officer for Engagement of the GBIF Secretariat, stated in his presentation that: “there is a lot of data being generated by local governments that at the moment is done so in a form that is not readily useable by scientists and decision-makers.”
In an attempt to address the biodiversity data challenge, on 17 October, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability in association with the GBIF and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), held a training workshop. This was a first of its kind, to empower local government practitioners with the available tools to standardise, publish and make their biodiversity data publicly accessible via the internet. This workshop is part of a GBIF mentoring programme, involving SANBI and ICLEI’s Cities Biodiversity Centre. Individuals attending the workshop included delegates from Japan, São Paulo, the Deputy Mayor of Brest, France and representatives of a number of research institutes, and organisations in India.
Tim Hirsch commenced the workshop with a thorough overview of the GBIF portal and in an interactive session facilitated the workshop participants in navigating through the website. Thereafter, facilitated discussions in breakaway groups highlighted some of the constraints and opportunities that local government practitioners encounter with their biodiversity data publishing. This information will be utilised to inform ICLEI’s strategy in facilitating more local governments to overcome these challenges. Lastly, the GBIF best practice guide for data publishing by local governments was highlighted and participants were introduced to the various tools and guidelines freely available to them for biodiversity data publishing. This guide is available here.
As the world’s largest network of local governments working on sustainable development, ICLEI with guidance from SANBI and support by the GBIF mentoring programme, is in the final stages of becoming a ‘GBIF Node Manager’ for local governments; a role which entails capacitating and encouraging local government practitioners to use the facility. By publishing their data, local governments will enhance the quality, predictive value, verifiability and transparency of their planning processes, thus improving land-use decisions and the confidence civil society can place in these decisions. This is certainly a new frontier for local governments and biodiversity informatics.
Unlocking local government treasure troves: new frontiers in biodiversity informatics
Local governments are critical contributors to the implemenation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Aichi Targets. They also have access to a wealth of fine-scale biodiversity data which, if shared in a consistent format, enables effective policy implementation at local level as well as contributing to improved data resolution across the landscape. Better science, informing better decisions at all scales, will result from free and open access to these data. This workshop is part of a Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) mentoring programme, involving SANBI and ICLEI's Cities Biodiversity Centre. It aims to empower local governments with the know-how, standards and tools that can be used to discover and publish primary biodiversity data.
Key participants have been invited to the GBIF local government training workshop on 17 October, 9.30 - 12.30 at Htoel Avasa, Hyderabad. Click on the link to view the invitation.
SABIF MSc bursary
SABIF is making a bursary available for an MSc in the field of biodiversity information management at the University of the Western Cape's Biodiversity and Conservation Biology Department. Candidates who bring together the required expertise in biological and information sciences are encouraged to apply as project proposals should include a biodiversity informatics and a natural science component.
SABIF training opportunities
SABIF is offering two training workshops in November 2012. The Georeferencing training workshop takes forward the train-the-trainers approach and will take place in Pietermaritzburg from 20 - 22 November 2012. The Species Distribution Modeling using R workshop will be run by Dr Vernon Visser in Stellenbosch from 26 - 30 November. Please click on the links below to read the relevant call for applications.
The annual South African Biodiversity Information Facility (SABIF) call for digitization applications
The SABIF call for digitization applications is open to all individuals and organisations in South Africa and the application deadline is 30 May 2012.
SABIF aims to contribute to South Africa’s sustainable development by facilitating access to the biodiversity and related information via the internet. In order to contribute to meeting this aim, SABIF distributes an annual call for the submission of digitization proposals.
Funding will be provided to selected projects that digitize and geo-reference primary biodiversity (specimen) and related data.
Download the SABIF Call for Proposals to find out more about criteria, eligibility, requirements and an application form.
18th GBIF governing boad meeting
Event Date: 3 - 6 October2011
Venue: Buenos Aires in Argentina
Article by Fatima Parker-Allie,
SABIF node manager,SANBI BIM
South Africa is the fourth largest contributor of primary biodiversity data to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). This significant achievement was communicated at the 18th meeting of the GBIF governing Board held in Buenos Aires in October.
The South African node of the GBIF, the South African Biodiversity Information Facility (SABIF), mobilized more than 14 million biodiversity data records, through establishing effective partnerships and disbursing grants to capture data, making it the fourth highest contributor of biodiversity information to the GBIF. All of this information is freely available on the internet www.sabif.ac.za
The ability to successfully mobilize millions of records in support of research, conservation, policy and decision making is a direct consequence of the commitment to the open access philosophy shared by SANBI and its partner organisations. This data, belonging to a range of taxonomic groups, including birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and plants are of critical importance, as its application has relevance to addressing issues of national priorities and issues such as poverty alleviation, environmental stability and Millennium development Goals.
A further achievement for the Africa continent was the election of Prof. Jean Cossi Ganglo of Benin as the 3rd Vice Chair of the GBIF Science Committee. Prof. Ganglo is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Agronomy of the University of Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou, and the Node Manager of GBIF-Benin. Prof. Ganglo has indicated that as an Ambassador of the Africa-GBIF community he intends to draw attention to the specificity of our mega diverse continent so that it can be taken into consideration when making decisions in GBIF.
Significant momentum in biodiversity informatics has been catalyzed on the African continent. Ms. Parker-Allie, the Nodes chair of the GBIF-Africa region, addressed the Node Managers and Africa Heads of Delegation and presented a regional engagement framework for biodiversity informatics in response to regional and national priorities. This framework prioritizes a formal mechanism to ensure that Africa speaks with a unified voice on issues of information management.
This year saw the 10 year celebration of GBIF, and the theme of the Science Symposium was “Reaping benefits for Science and Society”. Mr. Selwyn Willoughby, Director of Biodiversity Information Management, at the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) presented the value of the Biodiversity Advisor, and its relevance in bridging the science-policy divide. This decision support tool has been commended by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, who has indicated that the Biodiversity Advisor is used in departmental decision making processes.
The South African delegation to the Governing Board event was lead by the Head of Delegation of the South African Biodiversity Information Facility and CEO of SANBI, Dr. Tanya Abrahamse.
It was very promising to observe the leading role of South Africa within this international landscape, both in terms of international collaborations, capacity development and data mobilization strategies. The role of SABIF was highly commended in a number of presentations.
SABIF has shown its commitment to capacity development by making a travel award available, to foster more interest and greater involvement in Biodiversity Informatics. This award provided an opportunity for an emerging researcher to be exposed to global best practice and the success stories of the global nodes. Mr. Dylan Clark, curator of fish from Iziko Museums was awarded the travel grant and has joined the South African delegation at GBIF18 in Argentina. According to Mr. Clark, GBIF provided “a glimpse of where the organisation and indeed the field of biodiversity informatics are heading within the next ten years”.
Jens-Christian Svenning was awarded the prestigious Ebbe Nielsen Prize which recognises novel use of biosystematics and biodiversity informatics. Svenning is a professor of eco-informatics and biodiversity at Aarhus University, whose work may help to predict the response of biodiversity to future climate change, and uses GBIF-enabled data as part of his work activities.
We bid fare well to Dr. Nick King who has headed GBIF for four and a half years, and welcome the new Executive Secretary Donald Hobern who currently is the director of the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) and will head the GBIF Secretariat from end-January 2012. Donald Hobern has a background in software development and web architecture, and he worked 16 years for IBM before joining GBIF in 2002, where he worked for 5 years as Deputy Director for Informatics.
GBIF Africa regional meeting
Event Date: 13 and 14 September 2011
Venue: Pretoria Botanical gardens
Delegates from African Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) nodes are determined to move beyond abstract collaboration towards the nuts and bolts of changing the way things happen on the ground. The second regional meeting of the GBIF Africa nodes in September 2011 reached increased clarity on the priorities, purpose and actions required to take many leaps forward in science, biodiversity informatics and development on the continent.
The GBIF Africa nodes was attended by 28 delegates representating 18 country and organisational nodes., The purpose of this meeting was to build on the achievements of the 2010 Entebbe regional workshop, ensuring clear prioritisation with concrete outcomes, and preparing for the global conference in Argentina in October. This two day meeting was hosted by the South African Biodiversity Information Facility and funded by the Department of Science & Technology, at the Pretoria National Botanical Gardens.
Three priority areas of work identified for regional collaboration and partnership over the next two years are: capacity building; data publishing; and regional node activities. Key outputs were identified and will be finalised by the relevant task teams and leaders established for each work area.
According to Selwyn Willoughby, Director of Biodiversity Information Management at SANBI “we are working towards the practical implementation of actions that would ensure that the data we manage contributes towards initiatives beyond the GBIF community, such as the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Through the work of this group we are changing the way we work with biodiversity information on the African continent; we moving towards greater synergy and smoother implementation of biodiversity informatics related content, products and services.”
Vishwas Chavan,GBIF Secretariat, comments on the workshop, “in this meeting Africa has come together and built on the investment that has already been made by the global community. It sounds to me that Africa is ready to embark on biodiversity informatics to solve their national and regional challenges.”
Appointment of services for data management expertise
Closing date: 16 September 2011
Closing Time: 11:00 am
The purpose of the call is to seek the services of experts in biodiversity data management for the SABIF programme.
Submissions to provide the services should address the scope of work as detailed in section 2.6 of the document.
Submissions must be in written format and must detail the scope of work, the associated costs, relevant
past experience and the name/s of project participant/s.
Submissions may be lodged in electronic or hardcopy format. Electronic submissions are preferred in MS
Hardcopy submissions should be sent to:
Ms F. Parker-Allie
South African National Biodiversity Institute
Private Bag X7
Call for Emerging Scientist to attend the GBIF Science Symposium
Closing date: 31 August 2011
GBIF Symposium date: 5th October 2011
Venue: Buenos Aires, Argentina
The aim of the South African Biodiversity Information Facility (SABIF) is to facilitate access to biodiversity information via the internet and in this manner contribute to sustainable development. It has a number of key objectives including:
a)promoting the sharing of data and
b)Contributing to education, training and capacity development for promoting national access to data
Biodiversity Informatics is a young and emerging field of work. In an endeavour to foster more interest and greater involvement in this field of science, SABIF is making available an emerging scientist travel award. This award will serve as an incentive to young emerging scientists, and will provide an opportunity for an emerging researcher to be exposed to global best practice in biodiversity informatics.
This year the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is celebrating 10 years of its existence and the science symposium will showcase the success stories of selected country nodes. The symposium will take on the 5th October, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The Department of Science and Technology is pleased to provide financial support to the successful candidate. All expenses such as flight, accommodation, ground transport and meals will be provided. Click Here to Download the Call
Travel Awards for African Participation in 2011 TDWG Conference
Closing date: 26 August 2011
Venue: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Biodiversity Information Specialists from developing African countries are invited to apply for travel support to participate in the 2011 Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) Conference, 16-21 October in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA (http://www.tdwg.org/conference2011/). The theme of TDWG 2011 is, “Digitization Methods, Technologies, and Standards for Biodiversity Collections”. The plenary lectures, contributed talks, workshops, software demonstrations and discussions being planned for the 2011 meeting will address the global biodiversity collection digitization effort currently underway.
The award will consist of airfare, lodging, conference registration and an allowance for meals and miscellaneous expenses. Awardees will be matched with TDWG members with similar interests, who will serve as mentors during the meeting, accompanying awardees to paper sessions and working group meetings, and helping them to get acquainted with other meeting participants. An informal session will be organized at the conference to allow each of the awardees to describe the biodiversity informatics projects they are involved with and to ask questions to TDWG mentors.
To apply, please send updated curriculum vitae describing your biodiversity informatics experiences, and a brief statement describing why you would benefit from participating in the2011 TDWG conference. Please email your application electronically no later than 26 August 2011. The travel grants will be awarded by the end of August.
Contact: Hank Bart (hank[at]museum.tulane.edu)
SABIF Biodiversity Geo-referencing Workshop
Event date: 4th – 8th April 2011
Venue: University of the Western Cape, Cape Town
SABIF is inviting applications for participation in a Biodiversity Georeferencing training workshop. Four leading international experts in the field will facilitate the workshop.
SABIF’s vision is to contribute to South Africa's sustainable development by facilitating access to biodiversity and related information on the internet.
The digitization of good quality primary biodiversity data is essential to achieving the vision.
The higher the quality of the data the more value it will offer researchers and decision makers in their efforts to take care of biodiversity and ensure the sustainable future of our planet.
Primary biodiversity data are the digital text or multimedia data records that detail the instance of an organism – the ‘what, where, when, how and by whom’ of the organism’s occurrence and recording.
Geo-referencing is the process of recording the ‘where’ of primary biodiversity data. This is valuable information because it:
- Gives geographical context to digitized specimens
- Offers insight into the range and occurring locations of a given species
- Aids collectors in the field in locating relevant specimens
- Facilitates the application of many useful tools, from species dot maps to full GIS analysis
Young Researchers Award programme
Submission date: 24 Feb 2011
Closing date: 15 March 2011
The main objective of the Young Researchers Award (YRA) is to foster innovative research and discovery in biodiversity informatics by graduate students in masters and doctorate programs at universities in countries participating in the GBIF network. The award has been put in place to stimulate use of GBIF enabled data by graduate students developing new research in biodiversity informatics and also to serve as an outreach mechanism to universities.
“Students are the future of the biodiversity research community,” commented Dr. Leonard Krishtalka, Chairperson of the GBIF Science Committee. “To have more researchers in biosystematics and biodiversity informatics using GBIF enabled data, we need greater involvement with students and academia and these awards will serve as an incentive towards that goal.”
The call for proposals provides prospective applicants with more information regarding the requirements for submission as well as details of the selection process.
Masters and doctorate students who are interested in submitting an application can obtain details regarding the submission of proposals and other information from the national GBIF Head of Delegation or the national GBIF Node Manager for the country where their studies are registered.
The closing date for nominations to GBIF is 15 March 2010 and will be made by the SABIF Head of Delegation.
The Ebbe Nielsen Prize
Submission date: 24 Feb 2011
Closing date: 15 March 2011
The Ebbe Nielsen Prize is an annual prize which was established by the GBIF Governing Board to honour the memory of Ebbe Schmidt Nielsen, who was an inspirational leader in the fields of biosystematics and biodiversity informatics and one of the driving leaders promoting the establishment of GBIF.
The Prize is primarily intended to be awarded to a promising researcher in the early stage of his/her career who is combining biosystematics and biodiversity informatics research in an exciting and novel way. This does not preclude researchers at later stages in their career from being nominated where they are able to demonstrate new and novel research in biosystematics-/biodiversity informatics.
The closing date for nominations to GBIF is 15 March 2010 and will be made by the SABIF Head of Delegation.
If would like to see more about the prize, its history and previous winner please click on the link below:
Breaking Barriers to Sharing Biodiversity Information
Event date: 25 March 2010
Kirstenbosch, Cape Town. The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) today celebrated the handover of the first collection of South African Biodiversity Information Facility (SABIF) data. SABIF is the national voting node of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) established by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in collaboration with the National Research Foundation, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as well as members of the scientific community.
The success of SABIF has essentially been the result of a joint partnership. DST has funded the activities of SABIF and SANBI has been responsible for developing and implementing SABIF’s work programme. According to SANBI CEO Dr Tanya Abrahamse: “This milestone in SANBI’s history is evidence of the fact that barriers to sharing of biodiversity information can be overcome, and that the capture and dissemination of priority biodiversity data can be effectively achieved.” Read more.....
SABIF 2nd Edition Data Standards Workshop
Event date: 11th & 12th June 2009
Following recommendations from the first data standards workshop, the second edition data standards workshop will be held at SANBI, Cape Town. This workshop will take place on the 11th and 12th June 2009 and will be held alongside the Biodiversity Information Management Forum.
This workshop will be composed of both a theoretical module, detailing the various GBIF approved standards. The second component of the course will look at implementing the standards and protocols. This will be a hands-on training session and will equip participants with the ability to implement these standards upon return to their home institutions, and make their systems interoperable with the SABIF infrastructure.
Ecological Niche-Based Modelling Workshop
Event date: 24th -27th March 2009
For logistic reasons, the workshop will include approx. 20 participants. Participants are expected to have background/experience in both biology/biodiversity, and the use of GIS tools (specifically ArcView or ArcGIS). This workshop is targeted at scientists, conservation planners, academics and decision makers.
SABIF Portal Goes Live on the
Event date: 18th March 2008
One of the core focus areas of the SABIF programme is to promote the sharing of biodiversity information, using a common approach in applying data standards. One mechanism to encourage the free flow of information is the development of the SABIF website. The website has two main objectives. The one is to be an information hub to interested parties about the activities of the SABIF and to encourage participants to become a part of the SABIF network. The second important function of the website is the hosting of the SABIF data portal. This portal acts as a repository of cached data and also allows for the linkages of institutions hosting their own data. Thus the SABIF portal disseminates biodiversity data for South Africa using different, sophisticated methods of data sharing and also enables this information to be served via the GBIF portal. The SABIF information architecture is a sophisticated infrastructure that culminates in South Africa's biodiversity data being shared in a free and open access environment.