Next-generation field guides

November 15th, 2013 | RESEARCH

To conserve species, we must first identify them. Field researchers, land managers, educators, and citizen scientists need up-to-date and accessible tools to identify organisms, organize data, and share observations. Emerging technologies complement traditional, book-form field guides by providing users with a wealth of multimedia data. We review technical innovations of next-generation field guides, including Web-based and stand-alone applications, interactive multiple-access keys, visual-recognition software adapted to identify organisms, species checklists that can be customized to particular sites, online communities in which people share species observations, and the use of crowdsourced data to refine machinebased identification algorithms. Next-generation field guides are user friendly; permit quality control and the revision of data; are scalable to accommodate burgeoning data; protect content and privacy while allowing broad public access; and are adaptable to ever-changing platforms and browsers. These tools have great potential to engage new audiences while fostering rigorous science and an appreciation for nature.


(no document provided)

Team Members

New England Wild Flower Society, Contributor
Elizabeth Farnsworth, Author, New England Wild Flower Society
Miyoko Chu, Author, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
W. John Kress, Author, Smithsonian Institution
Jason Best, Author, Botanical Research Institute of Texas
John Pickering, Author, University of Georgia
Robert Stevenson, Author, University of Massachusetts Boston
Gregory Courtney, Author, Iowa State Insect Collection
John VanDyck, Author, Iowa State University
Aaron Ellison, Author, Harvard University's Harvard Forest


Identifier Type: DOI
Identifier: doi:10.1525/bio.2013.63.11.8

Publication: BioScience
Volume: 63
Number: 11
Page(s): 891


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL

Related URLs

Go Botany
Full Text


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Evaluators | Museum | ISE Professionals | Scientists
Discipline: Computing and information science | Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Life science
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Citizen Science Programs | Informal | Formal Connections | Park | Outdoor | Garden Programs | Public Programs