News Story

Planning for the future of Diatoms of the United States



29 August, 2014

Sarah Spaulding

In September (16-20), members of the Editorial Review Board, Environmental Protection Agency representatives and web designers will gather at INSTAAR, University of Colorado, to discuss planning for the future of the project. Many of our users (you) have responded to requests for feedback on both the content and features of the website. Some of the topics on our list for consideration include:

CREATING ADDITIONAL CONTENT. In coming years, we hope to complete, or nearly complete the diatom flora of the US, an expansion from 700 to 2500 species pages. What is the prioritization of species to be included? See the previous news item for details.

CONSISTENT IDENTIFICATION. The greatest concern of agencies is, how can we insure that analysts at the microscope, in different laboratories, apply names to species in a consistent fashion. How might design of the site facilitate consistent taxonomy?

NAVIGATION / SEARCH. Now that we are have over 700 taxon pages, searching for taxa by images has become unwieldy. For some time, we have been considering the problems related to filtering and sorting taxa. Some of the simple options include sorting by size, striae count, or other features (for example, small naviculoids). We are also considering the bigger ideas of faceted navigation and key-based navigation.

PERSONALIZATION. Users have expressed interest in the ability to create “personalized” floras. For example, a user might want see only a subset of taxa that occur in their region.

TABLETS AND TOUCH SCREENS. How might touch screen technology help users at the microscope? There is a clear benefit to making the website use Responsive Web Design (RWD) so that the content automatically rearranges itself to fit all screen sizes, from phones to giant monitors.

COUNTING SOFTWARE. Are users interested in the integration of counting software, with lists of species their images?

GENOMICS / MOLECULAR DATA. Species pages are now linked to genomic data, when it is available (see the CITATIONS tab under species). Are there other ways the project ought to support the exchange of morphologic and molecular data?

GEOSPATIAL DATA. The site currently shows limited geographic distribution data (EMAP tab under species). There are opportunities to link to survey data for diatoms across the US.

DOWNLOAD DATA. What kinds of data would users like to download from the site? An example would be summaries of species autecological “habits”.

HELP RESOURCES. How much might users and contributors benefit through screencasts, slideshows, and video?

GLOSSARY. One of the original plans included integration of “live” glossary terms, so that hovering over a term shows an illustrated short glossary and link to longer glossary entry.

If you have further feedback, please contact any member of the Editorial Review Board. We appreciate your participation in creating a resource directed by the broader scientific community.