Symposia, Workshops, & Discussion Sessions

Organized sessions include symposia, workshops, demos, a panel discussion & lightning talks

Image by Paul Talbot

last updated 8 May 2022

SYM01 Linking Worldwide Plant Data – World Flora Online, WFO Plant List, IPNI, and beyond

Session Type: Symposium (unsolicited presentations considered)

Organizers: Chuck Miller, Missouri Botanical Garden, Saint Louis, MO, USA,; and Walter Berendsohn, Berlin Botanic Garden, Berlin, Germany,

Great progress has been made recently in linking worldwide plant data. The World Flora Online (WFO) is online with a global consensus plant taxonomic backbone containing over 1.4 million vascular and non-vascular plant names with associated concepts. This backbone was developed by merging IPNI, World Checklist of Vascular Plants, APG4, PPG, and other sources augmented by over 25 Taxonomic Expert Networks each focused on separate groups of plants. A new WFO Plant List has been published online that replaces “The Plant List Version 1.1” and provides online search and navigation of the WFO Taxonomic Backbone, with versioning. WFO also includes over 600,000 descriptive records compiled from regional floras and global treatments that required data linking from many sources using Darwin Core Archive. This session will include presentations on the status of the World Flora Online, processes used to assemble the taxonomic backbone, Taxonomic Expert Networks, WFO Plant List, and other plant data repositories.

SYM02 How are biodiversity infrastructures stepping up to address the biodiversity crisis?

Session Type: Symposium (unsolicited presentations considered)

Session Organizers: Quentin Groom, Meise, Belgium,; and Joana Pauperio, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, European Bioinformatics Institute, Hinxton, Cambridge, United Kingdom,

There are some complex and fundamental questions regarding life on Earth that still need answering. These include basic questions concerning ecology and evolution, but also many practical questions of global concern, such as conserving the world’s biodiversity, managing invasive species, controlling zoonosis, predicting the impacts of climate changes, and so on. Biodiversity infrastructures have a crucial role in answering these questions. In this symposium we ask these infrastructures how they see their future? What are they planning to do to better serve the biodiversity research community? How will they work together to increase and enrich the data available for research? What processes will be put in place to ensure the data provided are suitable to inform policy? We encourage infrastructures to present their future plans from a technical standpoint, but we also wish to explore the future of biodiversity infrastructures from a social, educational, procedural and policy position.

SYM03 National biodiversity data centers: challenges and opportunities

Session Type: Symposium (unsolicited presentations considered)

Session Organizers: Katja Luther, Center for Biodiversity Informatics and Collection Data Integration, Botanic Garden Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Berlin, Germany,; and Anton Güntsch,Center for Biodiversity Informatics and Collection Data Integration, Botanic Garden Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Berlin, Germany,

In recent years, a number of national biodiversity data centers have been established with the aim of providing services for data storage, data capture and management as well as integration, evaluation and publication. Examples are “Nationale Forschungsdateninfrastruktur für Biodiversität” (NFDI4Biodiversity) in Germany, “Pôle National de données de biodiversité” (PNDB) in France and the “Swedish Biodiversity Data Infrastructure” (SBDI). In addition to offering specific data services of their own, national data centers can provide an important role in linking international information infrastructures to local research processes and in communicating biodiversity informatics standards, such as those being developed in the context of TDWG Biodiversity Information Standards. Beside offering the technical services to store, analyze and publish research data, national data centers also provide support for the creation of research data management plans and thus enable the consideration of proper data processing already in the preparation phase of projects. The symposium will provide a platform to present national and regional data centers in biodiversity research. Important aspects are their integration in and complementarity from international initiatives and infrastructures, possibilities of cooperation among each other as well as organizational and technical challenges in implementation.

SYM04 Sharing and visualizing species data and information

Session Type: Symposium (unsolicited presentations considered)

Session Organizers: Francisco Pando, GBIF Spain / CSIC, Madrid, Madrid, Spain,; and William Ulate, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri , USA,

Species information and species reference catalogues remain one of the top products and services demanded by non-specialist scientists, professionals and citizens. So, improving dissemination and re-utilization of these resources should be appealing to a large number of initiatives and scenarios. Even more when, as it is the case, building and maintaining such resources is expensive. Besides, species data integration poses special challenges, such as the intrinsic contradictory requirements for stability and keeping pace with scientific advance. This symposium aims to share experiences, and advance in finding ways -technical or otherwise-- to make species pages and catalogues, more compatible, easier to maintain, integrate and improve. Specifically, if these issues:

  • keeping track of taxon concept changes in time,
  • linking species pages to other sources,
  • building and maintaining gateways between taxonomies, preparing species pages under the umbrella of GBIF's Living Atlases Community

…are among your problems (or your solutions), or you want to learn and exchange ideas on these matters, this symposium is for you.

SYM05 Standardizing Biodiversity Data Quality

Session Type: Symposium (unsolicited presentations considered)

Session Organizers: Arthur Chapman, TDWG Data Quality Interest Group, Ballan, Vic, Australia,; and Arnald Marcer, Campus Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain,

There is a need for Standardization in Biodiversity Quality - from collecting and recording data in the field (including by citizen scientists), through georeferencing (either in the field or after the fact) and documenting data quality using FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) (Wilkinson et al. 2016) so that users can determine the suitability of the data for their own uses. Finally, there is a need for methods for testing and improving the vast amounts of legacy data that exists in museums and herbaria. Many potential users of biodiversity data aren't using the data because of a perceived lack of quality and documentation. This needs to be improved. There are many projects looking at all these aspects of data quality. The TDWG Data Quality Interest Group, for example, is close to publishing a standard for testing and reporting on data quality and relating that to the Darwin Core Standard. Ninety eight core tests for data quality have been developed and these are currently being formulated into a standard for use by data aggregators as well as individual museums and herbaria to help identify issues, and thus improve the quality.

SYM06 Open-source approaches to mobilizing biodiversity data

Session Type: Symposium (unsolicited presentations considered)

Session Organizers: Abigail Benson, U.S. Geological Survey, Lakewood, CO, USA,; and Mathew Biddle, U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System, Silver Spring, MD, USA,; Tylar Murray, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, FL, USA,; Isa Elegbede, Brandenburg University of Technology, Cottbus, Germany & SAEIO Global, Nigeria,; Jonathan Pye, Ocean Tracking Network, Halifax, NS, Canada,; Tim van der Stap, Hakai Institute, Campbell River, BC, Canada,

Data mobilization, the act of making data openly accessible and interoperable, is one of the key factors in improving the reusability of data and ensuring we have a more complete assessment of global biodiversity. Data mobilization requires using data standards and community best practices which can be hard to understand for data providers and difficult to know which ones to apply to their data. Further, certain technical skills such as scripts in Python, R, or OpenRefine can improve the reproducibility of the data mobilization process and can lead to more automated processes for repeated sharing and updating of data into the global commons. In this session we will present and invite presentations on recent methods for improving, promoting, and assisting in data mobilization. The session will highlight strategies that have been most successful as well as challenges for data providers.

LT07 How to exchange management data on wildlife and invasive alien species

Session Type: Lightning Talks (unsolicited presentations considered)

Session Organizers: Lien Reyserhove, Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), Brussels, Belgium,; and Quentin Groom, Botanical Garden Meise, Meise, Belgium,

Despite recent improvements, the Darwin Core (DwC) standard is still not able to capture the full complexity of the management of alien species and other wildlife. The diversity in management objectives and methods for different taxonomic groups make the standardization a challenge. Applied invasion science has established frameworks for the management of invasive species. Likewise, animal health regulations have driven the development of standards to exchange data on wildlife management of some species. The need for a data exchange format that can capture management efforts on all IAS is real. Such a data exchange format is needed to quantitatively compare, amongst others, management techniques, efforts and policies at various spatial scales. All this is particularly relevant in the context of the IAS regulation (EU1143/2014), which imposes mandatory reporting on Member States. Is DwC the right standard for the data produced by all kinds of IAS management techniques? Should a community driven data exchange format that still allows a lossy transformation to DwC be developed? This session will discuss existing initiatives, provide relevant use cases from a community of researchers and IAS managers, and aims to steer future work around this topic.

SYM08 Event-based management of Natural Science collections data driven by challenging research use-cases

Session Type: Symposium + Panel Discussion (unsolicited presentations considered)

Session Organizers: Falko Glöckler, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Berlin, Germany,; and James Macklin, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada,

The first part of the symposium provides room for researchers to describe their use-cases, emphasizing the challenges in managing physical objects, their derivatives, and their interconnections in their sample-based research. Example foci may include paleontology, e-DNA, and phylogenomics all of which generate physical objects that may be included in collections for long term curation. We will invite early-career researchers active in these fields, but new to TDWG and we are presently generating a candidate list of speakers. The second part of the symposium is a response by representatives of collections management systems, standards bodies, and data aggregators who will describe how they might meet the needs of researchers and how their data may emerge for FAIR use, being followed by a panel discussion with open questions and answers.

SYM09 A Global Collections Network: building capacity and developing community

Session Type: Symposium (unsolicited presentations considered)

Session Organizers: Jutta Buschbom, Statistical Genetics, Ahrensburg, SH, Germany,; and Sharon Grant, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL, USA,

Information-rich, standardized and persistent provider records lie at the heart of powerful open knowledge systems. They form fundamental prerequisites for FAIR and attributable data publishing, reliable determination of provenance and effective transaction management. With this as a foundation, rights-based access to and use of biodiversity data enables collaboration and participative decision-making by and benefit sharing with data users and providers. The immense data needs of the monitoring framework accompanying the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), represents a powerful use case for well-curated collection-level data. Natural science collections are trusted providers of these datasets. For them, GBIF’s Registry of Scientific Collections is emerging as the global catalog and aggregator in their domain. The infrastructure and metadata that it provides will be key in asserting operational fitness, data quality, interlinking and extensibility, connecting research data to national and global reporting for post-2020 GBF monitoring. This symposium aims to gather a diversity of groups and initiatives, which share the goal of enabling robust global functionality for information at the data provider level. The session will highlight and promote the commitment and capacity that already exists, show opportunities to become engaged, and aims to strengthen connections between working groups.

SYM10 Biodiversity Informatics perspectives from Asia

Session Type: Symposium (unsolicited presentations considered)

Session Organizers: Vijay Barve, Nashik, Maharashtra, India,

The Asian continent is a biodiversity-rich region with a lot of human population pressure, with some of the most populous cities in the world. There is an alarming amount of pressure from development needs of the people. Biodiversity data from this region is not mobilized in adequate quantity to influence the policies towards protection of important areas and species. The lack of information was also highlighted in the Twenty Year Review of Global Biodiversity Information (GBIF). The symposium will bring together important players active in the region to share their work and perspectives, to come together and build a stronger biodiversity informatics community in Asia, and to mobilize and analyze biodiversity data from Asia to cooperatively address these challenges.

Session Type: Workshop

Session Organizers: Jutta Buschbom, Statistical Genetics, Ahrensburg, Germany,; and Laurence Bénichou, Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris, France,

A key question for biodiversity research and applied conservation, which both rely on large, dynamic and multifaceted biodiversity datasets, is how to free biodiversity data to be able to reuse them. The goal of the workshop is to arrive at a better overview of legal rules governing data publication, and empower participants to use appropriate licenses and language that will allow data to be reused. Currently, most small publishers express concerns related to copyright and are uncertain if they are allowed to share data contained within a published paper without a clear statement from the author. Similarly, many authors are also unaware of whether or not they retain copyright on their text and data in publications. Moreover, rights and obligations associated with data presented by digital infrastructures often are not clearly stated. On the basis of initial impulse statements providing background information and distinct perspectives on the topic, the main part of the session will be an interactive exchange among participants and invited legal experts. The outcomes of the workshop will contribute to the development of guidelines for the community. The workshop is jointly organized by members of the Biodiversity Heritage Library, the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF) e-Publishing working group and the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC).

SYM12 Information extraction from digital specimen images using Artificial Intelligence

Session Type: Symposium (unsolicited presentations considered)

Session Organizers: Vamsi Krishna Kommineni, Friedrich Schiller University Jena | German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) | Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany,; and Quentin Groom, Meise Botanic Garden, Meise, Belgium,

Digitization of specimen images from all over the world is accelerating. All these digital images are available online in institutional portals or large aggregators like iDigBio and GBIF. In general, they can be downloaded by anyone and used for a wide variety of purposes. Apart from specimens, there is often not much more data available to build applications on the diversity of lesser-known species, therefore the availability of digital specimen images are a great asset for the biodiversity research field. Combining these digital image corpuses with Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies enables the creation of services to aid or automate tasks such as image classification, trait measurement and count, object detection, traits shape analysis, text analysis and so on. This has the potential to generate and increase the data available from specimens by several orders of magnitude, which in turn will allow researchers a better understanding of biodiversity. In this session, we explore the new approaches and difficulties involved in the extraction of information from digital specimen images using machine learning and deep learning approaches. The main goal of the session is to bring experts together, working towards automated extraction and building a shared knowledge.

PD13 Essential Biodiversity Variables Hypercube

Session Type: Panel Discussion

Session Organizers: Miguel Fernandez, iDiv, Leipzig, Germany,; Nestor Fernandez, iDiv, Leipzig, Germany,; Luise Quoss, iDiv, Leipzig, Germany,; Jose Valdez, iDiv, Leipzig, Germany,; Christian Langer, iDiv, Leipzig, Germany,; and Henrique Pereira, iDiv, Leipzig, Germany,

The Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) constitute the information framework that helps characterize and monitor the state of biological systems over time, providing critical information needed for environmental policy and management. To successfully implement this framework, we must collaborate with different groups working at different dimensions and scales of biodiversity and have developed independent standards and protocols to improve the interoperability of their information. In response to this challenge, the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) and the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) have created the EBV-Data-Portal, an openly accessible online repository, which aims to provide freely available geographical data on different dimensions of biodiversity through a harmonized data standard. The objective of this session is to present the EBV-Data-Portal and the gridded data structure (i.e., netCDF) and how it is now adapted to represent EBVs. During the session we will openly discuss the terms we suggest as a basis for the definition of this information standard that could provide and maintain a sustainable information framework and infrastructure that meets the needs of science and society for open, persistent, interoperable, well-described and easily discoverable biodiversity observational data.

LTD14 Ensuring FAIR Principles and Open Science through Integration of Biodiversity Data

Session Type: Lightning Talks + Guided Discussion

Session Organizers: Elizabeth Ellwood,"iDigBio, University of Florida", Los Angeles,CA, USA,; Anna Kirsten Monfils, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI, USA,; and Jyotsna Pandey, American Institute of Biological Sciences, Natural Science Collections Alliance Herndon, VA USA

The rapid growth and increasing quantities of digital data from life science and environmental domains have encouraged the use of data in new and holistic ways. Against this backdrop, the principles of Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR) data are reshaping how we think about configuring, accessing, linking, and using digital data in transparent, open, and collaborative ways to uncover previously undiscoverable relationships. Recent initiatives in the US and Europe envision a collective representation on the Internet of all related digital assets that meet the principles of FAIR and that are distinguished and linked using globally unique, persistent, and resolvable identifiers to create an extensive online network of knowledge. In this session, we will have a series of talks that highlight current efforts and initiatives to democratize data, facilitate cross-domain discovery, and foster fully integrated and interoperable research with biodiversity data. This will be followed by a community discussion among members of the wide range of biodiversity data stakeholders that will illuminate the pathway toward the standards-based infrastructure needed to support a FAIR and open biodiversity data model, and define the shared values that will expand and sustain it.

SYM15 Information session about late-stage Task Group submissions of standards additions

Session Type: Symposium (unsolicited contributions from task groups nearing or recently completing ratification)

Session Organizers: Steve Baskauf, Vanderbilt University Heard Libraries, Nashville, Tennessee, USA,; and Yanina Sica, Map of Life, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA,

Developing biodiversity information standards is at the core of TDWG's mission and Task Groups are the mechanism that makes this development happen. This session is intended to provide a forum for Task Groups who are advanced in the proposal of standards or who have recently completed ratification of new standards or additions to standards. Task Group members will provide a brief summary of their work and key points of their submission. It will constitute an opportunity for the community to engage in the development of the proposed standards and ask questions about how the additions can be used. This session will help set the stage for upcoming public comment periods, or to help implementers learn how to use new standards content.

SYM16 Connecting Creators, Distributors, and Consumers of Taxonomic Data

Session Type: Symposium (unsolicited presentations considered)

Session Organizers: Nicolas J Dowdy, Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee,WI, USA,; and Vijay Barve, GBIF,

Modern taxonomic information is created by taxonomists, distributed on digital platforms, and consumed by the public for many purposes, including downstream biological research. Often, these groups are composed of people with different taxonomic expertise, technical skill sets, and goals. This symposium will bring together stakeholders from each of these groups to discuss their viewpoints, challenges, and potential areas for further synergy and cooperation in streamlining the creation, distribution, and consumption of taxonomic information.

SYM17 An oak tree sighting in the ocean? Approaches to correcting biodiversity data after collection

Session Type: Symposium (unsolicited presentations considered)

Session Organizers: Rob Stevenson, University of Massachusetts, Boston, Boston, MA, USA,; and Libby Ellwood, iDigBio, Los Angeles ,CA, USA,

Biodiversity data quality is of universal concern in each step of the process from basic observation to management action. Today’s digital standards, especially the Darwin Core, have greatly expanded data sharing, creating heterogenous data and causing data quality to vary across observers, projects and aggregators. The result can be that researchers throw out entire data sets if they find data they feel will contaminate or compromise their analyseis. TDWG’s Data Quality Working Group has made great progress in developing tests and assertions to improve data quality. The quality of variables of most concern are taxon identification/resolution, observer expertise, the clarity and resolution of digital recordings, spatial accuracy, and temporal accuracy. Here we feature case studies, especially for citizen science, of approaches and processes that projects, aggregators, and analysts are currently using to filter, clean, and correct data. From these cases, we envision a set of guidelines that can be derived to measure and annotate the quality of biodiversity records. Such guidelines will improve transparency and help standardize the exclusion of data as necessary and improve the inclusion of data as appropriate.

SYM18 Extended taxonomic curation: moving beyond species lists to linking species data

Session Type: Symposium (unsolicited presentations considered)

Session Organizers: Nathan Upham, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA,; and Beckett Sterner, Arizona State University, Tempe,AZ, USA,

This symposium discusses the idea of how “extended” taxonomic curation can play new and innovative roles in (i) linking observational data to alternative taxonomic concepts; and (ii) enabling fit-for-use taxonomy to inform policy decisions. Taxonomic curators (TCs) have traditionally limited their activities to making lists of accepted species and higher taxa, but most biodiversity questions require observational data (e.g., specimen occurrences) that are taxonomically coherent, not just name lists. Taxonomy is at the center of modern biodiversity science; no species can be studied until it is formally defined, and no observation can be linked to related data without a taxonomic label. However, taxonomy is also a science in constant flux — even well-studied groups like Mammalia have fluctuated by >25% in recognized species in the last decade. As a result, there are calls to create a “global list of accepted species” to increase taxonomic stability, particularly for policy decisions in biodiversity conservation and management. The counterargument notes that forcing definitional consensus is likely to further inequities, and that a pluralistic, coordinated approach to taxonomy can be achieved with innovative cyberinfrastructure designs and services. We discuss how TCs might facilitate the transition to Extended Specimen Networks of taxonomically coherent biodiversity data.

INT19 The role of the Wikimedia ecosystem in linking biodiversity data

Session Type: Interactive multiple formats (unsolicited presentations considered)

Session Organizers: Daniel Mietchen, Leibniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Berlin, Germany,

The Wikimedia ecosystem of collaborative open knowledge websites like Wikipedia, Wikidata, Wikispecies, Wikisource or Wikimedia Commons covers the curation and sharing of multiple facets of biodiversity-related knowledge in a variety of ways. These interactions both contribute to and benefit from standardization efforts around biodiversity data. This session will explore such interactions from various perspectives, including but not limited to those of subfields of biology (e.g., taxonomy or invasion biology) or informatics (e.g., ontology development or knowledge graphs), with special attention to cross-disciplinary aspects like the curation of depictions of biodiversity in art or the use of biodiversity information more generally in non-biological fields of research or practice. Workflows using or contributing to any of the Wikimedia projects - in any language - are within scope. The session contributions will be in English, but the use of examples from non-English contexts is highly encouraged.