Karoo BioGaps Project Needs Your Help

11 April 2017

Scientists know very little about the plants and animals in the Karoo, and there is an urgent need to document the indigenous species found in this important part of South Africa. The public can help us in this crucial task.The Karoo has recently become an important area of development for South Africa, and therefore it is essential that we understand as much as possible of the biodiversity of the Karoo in order to inform decision making on development plans. We need to learn which species are widespread, and which are very rare and in need of protection, so we can determine which habitats in the Karoo are sensitive to proposed future changes in land use and development. 

We are calling on the public to be part of the Karoo BioGaps Project and help us undertake fieldwork in the Karoo and/or help us integrate existing data from museums and herbaria. We will study 12 different taxonomic groups: plants, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, freshwater fish, birds, bees, spiders, dragonflies, scorpions, grasshoppers and butterflies. By the end of the project, approximately 200,000 new records will inform species occupancy and habitat richness models.  These, along with approximately 300 Red List assessments of species of conservation concern, will be given to decision makers. The project also provides research opportunities for postgraduate students, building critical capacity for converting foundational biodiversity science into policy advice.Stonecrop

How you can help:

  1. 1.     You can photograph Karoo species and post your observations on http://www.ispotnature.org/projects/karoo-biogaps  

Why would posting observations on iSpot help? Any record of any species in the Karoo is useful to us, particularly those in the 12 taxonomic groups. By posting your picture of a species with its location information onto iSpot, you will be adding to the knowledge about the distribution range of that species.  Species experts will have access to your image on the website, and will identify it for you. You might spot something really unique! 

  1. 2.     You can help transcribe data from museum and herbaria collections using the online platform http://transcribe.sanbi.org/  

Why do we need help transcribing? There are thousands of historical museum and herbaria specimens collected before the time of computers! The information in these specimen records is critical to understand previous distribution patterns of species, but the information is inaccessible if it remains in hard copy only.  We need to digitise all museum and herbaria records so that scientists can analyse the data. Photographs of the specimen have been uploaded onto this website, but we need your help to type the data from the specimen label into the database. By doing this transcribing, you are helping to make species information as old as 1830 available to scientists and the general public!

 Prizes are available for the most iSpot uploads and the most records transcribed!

 Southern Rock Agama

The Karoo BioGaps Project led by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) in partnership with a consortium of research institutions, and is funded by the Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme (FBIP), a joint initiative of the Department of Science of Technology (DST), the National Research Foundation (NRF) and SANBI. 

For more information about the project, please contact the project managers:

Theresa Sethusa, SANBI Email

Carol Poole, SANBI Email

Useful links:

Karoo BioGaps Project webpage: www.sanbi.org/biogaps

Karoo BioGaps Project Blog: http://karoobiogapsproject.blogspot.co.za/

Karoo BioGaps Project Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/karoobiogapsproject/ 

Project website for the Strategic Environmental Assessment for Shale Gas Development http://seasgd.csir.co.za/

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