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A small fraction of the semi-known species

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10 May, 2015

Sarah Spaulding

Taxon Workshop (May 4-8) and Diatoms of US Developers Meeting (May 3-5) at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Philadelphia

Participants: Ian Bishop, David Burge, Gina LaLiberte, Melissa Vacarrino, Marina Potapova, Sonja Hausmann, Alison Minerovic, Sarah Spaulding, Michelle Maier, Mark Edlund, Nina Desianti

Developers: David Lubinski, Tim Gasperak, Chad Crowell, Casey Reid

Gathered in a conference room in Philadelphia last week, we noted that a subtitle for the Diatoms of the US project could be a small fraction of the semi-known species. This web flora is a long-term collaborative effort, and relies on a community of scientists working together uncovering basic information about diatoms. We continuously encounter new knowledge and the flora needs to grow, adjust and change. With each new taxon page, we are closer to a large portion of diatom diversity in North America.

A BIT OF BACKGROUND… In September 2014, Boulder, CO, EPA supported a workshop of the Editorial Review Board, EPA staff and academics on issues in taxonomic consistency and moving forward to expand content for the Diatoms of the US. One of the results of that meeting was an EPA grant of $6000 for content to Spaulding. That funding was used to:

1) Introduce young diatomists to the resources in the Diatom Herbarium

2) Investigate six priority species in the genus Craticula from herbarium collections

3) Compose and complete six taxon pages

In addition, we were joined by developers for the Diatoms of the US project. They are investigating user experience so we can lead diatomists to correct identifications, quickly and reliably. Tim Gasperak and David Lubinski conducted individual interviews with all of us. They asked many questions - how do we work? how do we collaborate with colleagues and peers? what is the process of identifying, classifying, and sharing information about diatoms?

Over the coming months, the developer team will be exploring potential improvements to the web site with the goal of making it more valuable to us in our work. Your input will be instrumental in helping them to understand what might be working or not working well. Please contact us, we value your input!