How to study & monitor life on Earth


21-22 February, 2005
Washington, D.C.

Organized by the
National Biological Information Infrastructure,
Smithsonian Institution,
Discover Life

Formica integroides
Formica integroides
Illustration by Jessica Holland, 2004
Last updated: 3 May, 2005


Our meeting is to brainstorm a better strategy to study and monitor life on Earth.

Society needs a global network to monitor the abundance and movement of species. If we integrate our resources, we could implement a real-time system to monitor all species of concern for North America within five years; for the world, within ten. How? Let's use the power of the Web to coordinate existing efforts towards our common goals.

Discover Life, Sun Microsystems,, and other partners are rapidly integrating Web-based systems that enable citizens to work together on a global scale to collect and share biological knowledge in real time. By the end of this year, we will have the technology to enable citizens to identify, report, database, and map target species in North America, including most ants, trees, and terrestrial vertebrates. How can we now

  1. organize, train, and involve enough schools and other organizations to study and monitor target species at a fine-grained geographic scale that includes field sites within all U.S. counties,

  2. expand our identification tools, study protocols, and species pages to include all North American species of concern, and

  3. expand the system to include a million species and a network of fine-grained study sites around the world?
Our meeting will set in motion a planning process to involve enough experts, schools, and citizen groups to achieve these goals. We will start with presentations on existing technology, organizing large numbers of citizens, ensuring data quality, and involving developing regions. We will then break into three working groups, each focused on one of the above goals. After which, we will hear group reports, have general discussion, decide on some action items, and be enthralled by concluding remarks. On Tuesday, a small team of us will meet at the Heinz Center, hammer out details on the larger group's recommendations, and actually move things along.


General questions

1-year goals

On Monday we will focus on the larger issues of how to study and monitor species. On Tuesday we will specify the 1-year goals and means to reach them for the following three projects:


Monday venue Ricky Sarnowski, 202-633-2663
      Security: Lawrence Chatman & Anita Montgomery; Refreshments: Restaurant Associates
Tuesday venue Laura Meyerson


The meeting went well. There was general consensus to work together and move forward on the three projects listed under our 1-year goals. Rather than producing a formal report, the organizers will keep updating the pages on these projects as they progress. Thus, please see Ant Hunt!, Plants for the People, and THEM -- World Ants.


Name Institution E-mail Phone AttendedGroup
Peter Alden Nuttall Ornithological Club 978-369-5768 Monday + TuesdayOutreach
Leeanne Alonso Conservation International 202-912-1282 Monday + TuesdayInternational
Mary Ball Carson Newman College 865-471-3254 Monday + TuesdayExperts
Gordon Brown US Dept. of Interior; Nat'l Invasive Species Council 202-354-1879 Monday + TuesdayOutreach
Becky Boger GLOBE 303-497-2647 Monday + TuesdayInternational
Gladys Cotter USGS-NBII 703-648-4090 MondayExperts
Sam Droege Patuxent Wildlife Research Center 301-497-5840 Monday + TuesdayOutreach
Brian Fisher California Academy of Sciences 415-321-8314 Monday + TuesdayInternational
Tom Garnett Smithsonian Institution 202-633-2238 Monday + TuesdayOutreach
Patty Gowaty University of Georgia 706-542-3365 MondayOutreach
Mike Irwin University of Illinois 217-333-1963 Monday + TuesdayExperts
Cahba Kingwood Sun Microsystems
Dan Kjar Georgetown University 202-687-2424 Monday + TuesdayInternational
Patricia Koleff CONABIO 525-55-528-9101 MondayExperts
John Lapolla Smithsonian Institution 202-633-1001 Monday-
Tom Lovejoy Heinz Center 202-737-6307 MondayInternational
Chris Lyal Natural History Museum, London
Chuck Lydeard National Science Foundation 703-292-7142 Monday + TuesdayExperts
Ed McNierney 978-251-4242 Monday + TuesdayOutreach
Laura Meyerson Heinz Center 202-737-6307 Monday + TuesdayExperts
Neil Patterson Neil Patterson Productions 919-933-1195 Monday + TuesdayOutreach
John Pickering University of Georgia 706-542-1115 Monday + TuesdayExperts
Peter Raven Missouri Botanical Garden 314-577-5111 Monday-
Lucy Rogo BioNET International 571-239-8798 Monday + TuesdayInternational
Gary Rosenberg Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 215-299-1033 Monday + TuesdayOutreach
Rusty Russell Smithsonian Institution 202-633-0943 MondayExperts
Cristian Samper Smithsonian Institution 202-633-2664 MondayExperts
Ted Schultz Smithsonian Institution 202-357-1311 MondayInternational
Annie Simpson USGS-NBII 703-648-4281 Monday + TuesdayInternational
Jeffrey Sossa Smithsonian Institution 202-633-1001 Monday-
Mike Soukup US National Park Service 202-208-3884 MondayInternational
Melissa Tulig New York Botanical Garden 718-817-8740 Monday + TuesdayExperts
Robb Turner SAIN-NBII & SAMAB 865-974-4585 Monday + TuesdayOutreach
Ed Wilson Harvard University 617-495-2315 MondayOutreach
Kay Yatskievych Missouri Botanical Garden 314-577-9524 Monday + TuesdayExperts

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