David Wake, Professor

Closed (1) AmphibiaWeb: An Informatics System for Amphibian Conservation Biology

Applications for Fall 2017 are now closed for this project.

We are in the midst of a world-wide collapse of amphibian populations. The amphibian decline is seen by many as a case example of the biodiversity crisis. Confounding efforts to combat the declines is that we have little knowledge concerning most of the species. Furthermore, the information is highly biased geographically. Since 2000, we have been developing an interactive, web-based communication and database system covering the status of all of the amphibians in the world (over 7000 species). AmphibiaWeb envisions an authoritative, scientifically responsible, and up-to-date system, which is solidly based on real specimens and data that includes links to authority files (for the legal scientific names of the taxa) and many sources of information on the web. Every amphibian species in the world has its own webpage and account containing information on the name and geographic distribution as well as its physical characteristics, behavior, relation to humans, and its official status, as well as a statement concerning what is known about population trends and likelihood of survival.

This apprenticeship is an excellent opportunity to learn amphibian biodiversity and biology, contribute to a public resource with credit, and communicate with the public in person and online about science.

Students will be expected to work 5-6 hours per week during the regular semester (5 hours for one credit, or 6-10 hours for two credits).
We are seeking a new team this year.

Apprentices for this project work directly on a bioinformatics project in a major natural history museum that combines amphibian biology and biodiversity conservation with a worldwide user base. Most students will use the literature and information on the Internet to produce accounts for species around the world. They will receive close supervision, but will be given considerable independence in producing accounts and in working on other aspects of systems development depending on interests (for example, georeferencing specimens, scanning photos and maps, searching the web to develop new links, etc.). These accounts will be edited for format and content by a central editing group before being published on the Internet. Student apprentices are given full credit as authors and/or editors when published to the website, a tangible product of your work.

Students will have numerous learning experiences through the apprentice program. They will be introduced to principles of biological systematics, to the biology of amphibians, to policy and conservation issues, and to the emerging need for world-wide informatics systems in biology and conservation. They will have an opportunity to work directly with scientists in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, and be introduced to specimens, curatorial methods and techniques, literature research techniques, GIS, online mapping tools, etc. Preference will be given to students with some biological background or a strong passion for natural history and conservation; all majors are welcomed. Writing or HTML coding skills are needed. Students who can read Spanish, Portuguese, French, German or Chinese are sought for translating amphibian species information. Please visit AmphibiaWeb.org to learn more.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Michelle Koo, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: Students work on various aspects of AmphibiaWeb, depending on their experience and interest. Basic computer literacy expected. Writing or HTML coding skills are needed. Ideally applicants have a passion for amphibians, conservation biology, or biodiversity informatics, and a love to learn and motivation to improve are what really count.

Weekly Hours: 3-6 hrs

Related website: http://ib.berkeley.edu/labs/wake/wakelab.htm
Related website: http://amphibiaweb.org