Angling app provides species data to University’s Biodiversity Collections
Fishbrain (www.fishbrain.com), the world’s largest free-to-use app and social network for anglers, has partnered with the University of Texas’ Biodiversity Collections (here.) and its Fishes of Texas project (http://www.fishesoftexas.org), to provide app-powered, crowdsourced data to aid in conservation and academic research in southern U.S. and northern Mexico states.
In the first ever example of an app assisting a regional biodiversity project for data-collection, Fishbrain, which has 1.4 million users in the US and over 130,000 users in Texas (its second most-popular state), will provide crowdsourced user-data directly to the Fishes of Texas project database for academic research and species-conservation. The rigorously-administrated database, used to determine the prevalence and locations of certain species of fish, has, until now, been composed of strictly museum specimen data.
For more information, and to find out how to help the project, go here.
Anglers typically focus on game species, which often grow very large in size. Scientific collecting, however, has very different tendencies, usually toward smaller species collected as part of specific research goals. Therefore, Fishbrain’s data are highly complementary to the museum data. For example, Rainbow Trout are only represented by a meager 24 observations among the museum data, but have 342 observations in the Fishbrain database. Those data are a vital tool in understanding when and where species are actually going and how long populations persist. With other crowdsourced data there would almost certainly be errors in ID, as many anglers are not well trained in fish ID. However, because Fishbrain users submit photos of their catches, scientists can verify the identifications.
The authors of the Fishes of Texas project and Fishbrain will co-publish a scientific paper detailing the relationship, and the app’s use as a valuable scientific resource. The data are expected to be used frequently by scientists, and will also be made available to the public.
As well as providing pre-existing data from the 50,000+ catches in Texas already, Fishbrain will be making the project widely known to its user-base, and asking it to collect conservation-relevant data also in Texas’ neighbouring states (New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana in the US; and Tamaulipas, Nuevo Léon, Coahuila, and Chihuahua in Mexico).
Adam Cohen, University of Texas, Biodiversity Collections, Ichthyology Collection Manager, and Fishes of Texas Project co-author, comments: “Historically, we’ve always focused on museum data, but we are excited to branch out and use the highly-complimentary Fishbrain data alongside our existing museum data. Along with data from Texas’ agency databases, scientific literature and other citizen science sources, we are hoping to make the Fishes of Texas Project database an exceptional and unique resource for studying fishes in our region. With enough data, we will be able to much better document how species’ ranges are changing over time, in a scientifically defensible way.”
Johan Attby, CEO of Fishbrain, comments: “We’re proud to be part of such a significant milestone in the relationship between technology and academia. Texas and the surrounding states make-up a significant part of our userbase, and so the preservation and study of the area’s aquatic life is very important to us. We see tech playing an ever-increasing role in academia in the future and, with our big data capabilities, we are proud to be part of the vanguard helping to make this happen. Being able to offer a unique boost to a rigorously scientific and productive project like the Fishes of Texas, which is also so relevant to the biodiversity we all care so much about, is a real statement about the potential, and future, of technology and conservation.”
About The Fishes of Texas Project
The Fishes of Texas Project, based in the University of Texas’ Biodiversity Collections’ Ichthyology Collection, addresses a long-needed effort to bring together in one database the worldwide museum holdings on the fish species of Texas (currently from 42 institutions and counting). These specimen-based data are the highest quality available, since they are verifiable via specimens and original documentation. Until this project, museum data has only been disparate, incompatible and, sometimes, completely inaccessible. The database includes well over 124,000 records collected between 1851 and 2010 by nearly 6,000 collectors. Project staff have visited and received specimen loans from over half of the project’s data contributors, enabling examination of over 4,000 museum specimens. Gulf of Mexico records and almost 19,000 inland records from neighboring Mexican and U.S. states are also included.
These efforts have already resulted in the discovery of 31 species occurrences in locations where they were previously not believed to occur, as well as 3 entirely new species for the state. Those data are now available on the FoTX website (www.fishesoftexas.org), where users can query and download the data, view interactive maps, and access the extensive digital library of field notes, specimen imagery and derived products. Users are encouraged to upload images and field notes of their own, and comment on the data to help continue improving the data.
These models and data products are being used in various ways, including projecting the impacts of climate change on fish distributions, finding and addressing knowledge gaps, exploring new ways to perform bioassessment, and comprehensive conservation planning. These data serve as a solid base for decision-making regarding regulation and conservation.
Fishbrain is the world’s biggest and fastest growing social network and mobile app for the world’s biggest hobby – sport fishing. Fishbrain helps anglers globally catch more and bigger fish and share their experiences.
In 2014, Fishbrain closed a $2.4m funding round lead by Northzone and Active Venture Partners, and has also received investment from other companies including GP Bullhound, Edastra Venture Capital, Umando, Almi Invest and Industrifonden. Additional investors include high profile entrepreneurs and business angels including Mattias Miksche, Founder and CEO of Stardoll; Rikard Steiber, EVP and Chief Digital Officer at MTG and former global marketing director of mobile and social advertising at Google; Hans Lindroth, CEO of Lingfield; Henrik Torstensson, CEO of Lifesum who previously held leading roles at Spotify and Stardoll; and Mathias Ackermand, business angel and former Founder and CFO of Transmode.
Fishbrain has achieved widespread recognition, having won several awards including Slush in Helsinki in 2012, MTGx Google Glass Hackathon in San Francisco in 2013 and Seedcamp Berlin in 2013.
Johan Attby, CEO of Fishbrain is an experienced serial entrepreneur, and previously founded Tific, a software company which was acquired by technology services solutions company PlumChoice Inc in 2011.
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