Friday, July 27, 2012

Content Highlights – Gobius kolombatovici from the family Gobiidae known as “gobies”

Did you know that gobies from the family Gobiidae are one of the largest families of fish, with more than 2,000 species in more than 200 genera? We would like to introduce you to one member of that species: Gobius kolombatovici.

This specimen is in the collections of the National Museum in Prague and is under CC-by license. 

Gobius kolombatovici is a very colorful and remarkable species, but even so, was discovered only recently (in 2000) by Kovačić and Miller in the northern part of the Adriatic Sea, in Kvarner Gulf. For seven years this species was considered to be endemic to Kvarner Gulf, but in 2007 it was also discovered by Francour and Mangialajo near the south coast of France. The last records about a new occurrence of G. kolombatovici are from the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas. Apparently this species is rather common in the Mediterranean Sea. Its late discovery could be caused by water depth in which it lives, between 15 – 90 m, and by its timid nature - it hides very quickly when spotting a diver. 

This specimen is in the collections of the National Museum in Prague and is under CC-by license.  
This species is rarely represented in collections. Displayed specimens are from the Adriatic Sea, close to Krk Island and are stored in the collections of the National Museum in Prague. 

Gobius kolombatovici specimens on Europeana portal  
As we mentioned, gobies is a very abundant family of fish. The species are mostly smaller than 10 cm in length, some even less than 1 cm long when fully grown, which classify these species among the smallest vertebrates in the world. The largest gobies can reach over 30 cm in length, but that is exceptional. Gobies are not commonly served in fish restaurants, but they are an important prey species for fish like cod or haddock. Some gobies, like bumblebee gobies are also of interest as aquarium fish.

Our next content highlight will come from the fossil world, stay tuned with OpenUp!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

BLE as virtual bridge between projects, content and knowledge

We are glad to inform you that the BiodiversityLibrary Exhibition (BLE) is now connected to the Europeana portal via all images on informative cards. BLE is a virtual exhibition focused on disseminating  natural history content (literature, illustrations and images) to the broader public via curated collections centered around a variety of themes.. BLE is also creating interconnections between portals/archives which are providing content under public domain or variable CC licenses.
BLE is now connected to the Europeana portal.

BLE was officially launched in February as a virtual exhibition for Biodiversity Heritage Library Europe and BHL US/UK. Since then, BLE has disseminated natural history literature via two thematic topics, Spices and Expeditions, using impressive illustrations, interesting information and high quality images. These exhibitions also link to the BHL-Europe and BHL-US/UK portals.. The BLE platform was developed by a team from the National Museum Prague and developers from the IT4Care company under the BHL-Europe project. Since the BHL-Europe project’s closure in April, 2012, BLE has been released as an as open source application. The Prague team is also involved in the OpenUp! project, which is providing Natural History content for the Europeana portal.  A new BLE topic, "Poisonous Nature," is under development by the OpenUp! project and will use content from BHL (illustrations) and OpenUp! (images) which are displayed on the Europeana portal. ”Poisonous Nature” offers a great opportunity for OpenUp! And Europeana to use this platform and reach expanded audiences, including those of BHL-Europe and BHL US/UK.
Schema of content connection between BLE, BHL US/UK and Europeana.

Development work on BLE is still continuing and additional platform improvements are being implemented. At the global BHL meeting in Berlin, June 2012, project participants decided to share BLE with all possible global BHL nodes, including Australia, China, Egypt, Brazil, US and Europe (with possible participation in sub-Saharan Africa in the future), allowing these nodes to create new, interesting thematic topics, link them to variable portals including Europeana, BHL-Europe,BHL US/UK, EOL etc., and use it as a dissemination tool. Once the platform is populated with a wider variety of thematic exhibitions, the potential to reach broader audiences will rapidly grow, particularly if disseminated via global partners. BLE will serve as a central repository, allowing content providers to reach new audiences, while simultaneously being promoted by a variety of BHL nodes.
Schema of BLE portal connections. Green arrows are running connections and blue arrows are prepared connections. Yellow cloud cover Global BHL nodes where will be included also BHL Egypt and BHL Africa.

The addition of new topics and information will also expand the potential for use in the education sector, introducing the content and knowledge in attractive ways for future generations.
Schema of prepared design adaptations of BLE front page.

In order to share BLE via other partners, such as Global BHL nodes, project organizers will coordinate an international workshop as part of the TDWG conference in Beijingin October 2012. The event is open to everyone. If you would like to know more about this workshop, please contact us via the BLE contact form.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Content Highlights – Abrus precatorius known as “Jequirity”

As the content from the OpenUp! project gradually grows on the Europeana portal, we are preparing selections of natural history content highlights for you.
This specimen is stored at Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem and the image is under the Creative Commons cc-by-sa 3.0 license. More information about the image use is under this link

Our first object is an interesting poisonous plant: Abrus precatorius. This herb commonly named Jequirity or Crab's Eye is widely distributed in the tropics today, mostly as an invasive weed. It is a perennial climbing legume up to 10 m high, with white to red coloured flowers and pinnate leaves. The leaves are consumed as a vegetable in central and east Africa. Well known are the bright red seeds with black top, used as beads for necklaces and other jewellery, as well as in percussion instruments. Due to the uniform weight of the seeds - nearly exactly 0,28 g - the seeds were also used for weighing gold and jewellery. The seeds contain a strong toxin, named abrin. Abrin inactivates protein synthesis in cells. A fatal dose of this poison is only 3 micrograms (µg), therefore one seed can be lethal for a human. In traditional medicine in Asia and Africa the purified and detoxified seeds are a medicine against diseases of the eye.

This displayed specimen is a so-called isotype of a special subspecies of Abrus precatorius which occurs in Africa, as the name of the subspecies, subsp. africanus, suggests.

Abrus precatorius specimen on Europeana portal

A type specimen is of outstanding value for the biologist: The scientific description of an organism is generally done for one individual of the species (or subspecies), which is usually prepared and stored in a natural history museum with international status. The scientific name is closely linked with this individual, called a holotype. In the case of our Abrus precatorius subsp. Africanus specimen, we received from the Kew herbarium a duplicate of the holotype, called an isotype.

More objects are coming, stay tuned!

Monday, July 2, 2012

BHL-Europe Final Meeting, Europeana Plenary and other events

In recent weeks, several interesting events were held across Europe and of course OpenUp! was there: Long night of science, Symposium of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), BHL-Europe Final Meeting , 11th Larwood meeting and Europeana plenary event.

OpenUp! poster displayed during BHL-Europe final meeting.
We already informed you about the Long Night of Science in Berlin in our last post, but this event was followed by the closely related BHL-Europe final meeting. This meeting was held in Jerusalem Church in Berlin June 4th – 6th and part (the first day) was a symposium on the topic of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB), which was adopted 20 years ago. A new OpenUp! poster was presented and stayed displayed during this entire BHL-Europe event, and discussed during coffee breaks and poster sessions by Jiří Frank. During the BHL-Europe Show and Tell session which was on the second day of this event, the OpenUp! project was presented by Petra Böttinger. During afternoon session Jiří Frank presented Biodiversity Library Exhibition (BLE) and its relation with BHL-Europe, OpenUp! and Europeana.You can find more information about this event on BHL-Europe blog here.
BHL-Europe meeting Jerusalem Church.
OpenUp! coordination team in discussion during BHL-Europe final meeting.
Jiří Frank presenting BLE virtual exhibition showing also BHL-Europe, OpenUp! and Europeana relation and content.
 In parallel with the Long night of Science, OpenUp! was introduced during the 11th Larwood meeting in Brno, Czech Republic by Kamil Zágoršek. From Thursday, May 31st to Saturday, June 2nd, 2012, the Department of Geological Sciences, Masaryk University in BRNO (Czech Republic) hosted the 11th Larwood meeting. 29 colleagues from 25 European countries and Brazil took part in the meeting, presenting 23 talks and 6 posters. Dr. Kamil Zágoršek introduced the OpenUp! project on June 1st, explaining the ideas behind the project, describing content delivered to Europeana and outlining prospective usage of this content by the scientific community.

Dr. Kamil Zágoršek introducing OpenUp! project during the 11th Larwood meeting in Brno.
June 13th – 15th the Europeana Plenary event was held in Leuven, Belgium, which was a great opportunity to discuss and share ideas and details with the staff of Europeana (the primary OpenUp! aggregator). The program was full of very interesting sessions and presentations, and there was also space for presenting the OpenUp! project by Kamil Zágoršek during the Open Mike session. During the Europeana Plenary, Hack4Europe 2012 was organised and its preview of prototypes is published here. For more details about this event and programme please visit the conference website and Europeana blog.
Kamil Zágoršek presenting OpenUp! on Europeana Plenary event.
Europeana Plenary 2012
Europeana Plenary 2012
We are currently preparing a new regular blog about Natural History content highlights. Stay tuned!