2016 GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge to focus on data gaps and biases

This year’s incentive prize will build on efforts to understand, examine and address gaps and biases in open-access biodiversity data from the GBIF network.

The Ebbe Nielsen Challenge, GBIF’s annual incentive prize, will build on efforts to understand, examine and address gaps and biases in open-access biodiversity data from the GBIF network.

When the Challenge offically opens on 29 July 2016, individuals and teams can submit their innovative concepts and compete for first- and second-prizes of €20,000 and €5,000, respectively, with the winners annnounced at GB23, GBIF’s annual Governing Board meeting, in Brasília on 26 October 2016.

This year’s emphasis on data gaps and biases builds in part on the growing body of scientific research that draws attention to various geographic, taxonomic, temporal, habitat and other gaps and biases in GBIF-mediated data. Two recent GBIF publications—the first on best practices for data gap analysis, the second on a task group report on fitness for use in distribution modelling—have highlighted many of these investigations.

“We expect that data users and data holders will all benefit from emphasizing the topic of gaps in this year’s Ebbe Nielsen Challenge,” said GBIF executive secretary Donald Hobern. “Data users need help in gauging whether data are suitable and sufficiently fit for use for their particular research questions. Meanwhile data holders—and funders—can gain from knowing critical temporal, spatial and other gaps so they can prioritize mobilization and digitization efforts.”

The distinguished jury for this year’s Challenge includes:

The period for submissions will run between 29 July and 29 September. Entrants will have to register all individual team members on DevPost, which will host all Challenge submissions and official rules. In the meantime, entrants may use the draft materials below to begin planning their submissions.


Preliminary overview: 2016 Ebbe Nielsen Challenge

The Challenge will ask entrants to explore and demonstrate how the approach used in their tools, methods and mechanisms apply to one or more of the following cases:

  1. Determining the completeness and consistency of data coverage for any taxonomic group at continental or global levels

  2. Providing a national view of the coverage and detail of available data for all taxa or particular taxonomic groups throughout the country.

  3. Providing a view of coverage and detail for other area types, such as environments (e.g., marine) or geographies (e.g., protected areas)

  4. Evaluating the data for an individual species to assess confidence in the completeness of coverage for that species

To be competitive, submissions should aim to include:

  • Definition and analysis of a geographic, taxonomic, temporal or other gap in GBIF-mediated data

  • Identification of the audience(s) affected by this gap and how addressing it will improve their use of or access to GBIF-mediated data

  • One or more ways that the identified gaps can be used to identify data prioritization priorities or enhancements to GBIF solutions

  • Potential for integration into the display of data on GBIF.org

Submissions will consist of three main elements:

  1. Entry details, including the names of all team members; identification of a lead team representative; the taxonomic, temporary, geographic and other ‘dimensions’ of gap(s) considered; key audience(s) and user groups served, and the objective of the entry.

  2. Narrative description, which defines the gap(s); justifies or provides evidence of its relevance; describes the tool, method or mechanism for addressing it; and the solution’s relevance to GBIF and/or GBIF.org

  3. Results, in the form of a prototype, demo, video or slides, along with any relevant technical requirements or implementation details.

The jury will evaluate eligible submissions on three criteria:

  • Applicability: how relevant is the submission for addressing particular gaps or measures of completeness?

  • Innovation: how creative and effective is the proposed tool, method or mechanism?

  • Functionality: how well does the proposed solution work? How easily and reliably can it be integrated or linked with tools, services and/or workflows connected to GBIF.org and GBIF API?

The Challenge will be open to:

  • Individuals who are at least the age of majority in the jurisdiction in which they reside as of the time of entry. Entries from individuals under the age of 18 require a letter of approval from a parent or guardian to be provided as part of the entry.

  • Teams of eligible individuals (with no limit on the number of eligible individuals that may be included in a team)

  • Organizations (including corporations, not-for-profit corporations and other nonprofit organizations, limited liability companies, partnerships, and other legal entities) that exist and have been organized or incorporated at the time of entry (“Organizations”)

The Challenge will NOT be open to:

  • Members of the GBIF Secretariat

  • Individuals currently under an external contract issued by the GBIF Secretariat

  • Members of the GBIF Science Committee

  • Heads of Delegation to GBIF


Suggested readings on gaps and biases in GBIF-mediated data

  • Amano T, Lamming JDL & Sutherland WJ (2016) Spatial Gaps in Global Biodiversity Information and the Role of Citizen Science. BioScience 66(5): 393-400. doi:10.1093/biosci/biw022

  • Ariño AH & Otegui J (2009) Meta-análisis de los datos de biodiversidad suministrados a través de gbif.es, Pamplona: Universidad de Navarra. http://www.gbif.es/ficheros/metagbifes.pdf

  • Boakes EH, Fuller RA, McGowan PJK & Mace GM (2015) Uncertainty in identifying local extinctions: the distribution of missing data and its effects on biodiversity measures. Biology Letters 12(3): 20150824. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2015.0824

  • Chavan VS, Gaiji S, Hahn A, Sood RK, Raymond M & King N (2010) State-of-the-Network 2010: Discovery and Publishing of Primary Biodiversity Data through the GBIF Network. Copenhagen: Global Biodiversity Information Facility http://www.gbif.org/resource/80666

  • Collen B, Ram M, Zamin T & McRae L (2008) The tropical biodiversity data gap: addressing disparity in global monitoring. Tropical Conservation Science 1(2): 75-88. http://tropicalconservationscience.mongabay.com/content/v1/08-06-09-Ben_Collen_et_al.html

  • Condé S, Roekaerts M, Vignault MP & Richard D (1996) Databases on species, habitats and sites: Survey and analysis, 1995-96. Copenhagen: European Environment Agency. http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/92-9167-034-0/at_download/file

  • Gaiji S, Chavan VS, Ariño AS, Otegui J, Hobern D, Sood R & Robles E (2013) Content assessment of the primary biodiversity data published through GBIF network: Status, challenges and potential. Biodiversity Informatics 8: 94-172. doi:10.17161/bi.v8i2.4124

  • Guralnick RP, Hill A & Lane M (2007) Towards a collaborative, global infrastructure for biodiversity assessment. Ecology Letters 10(8): 663-72. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2007.01063.x

  • Hill AW, Otegui J, Ariño AH & Guralnick RP (2010) GBIF position paper on future directions and recommendations for enhancing fitness-for-use across the GBIF Network, Copenhagen: Global Biodiversity Information Facility. http://www.gbif.org/resource/80623

  • Jarvis A, Ramírez J, Reymondin L, Amariles D, Tobón H, Camacho J & Tello JJ. (2010) Providing means for a better understanding of biodiversity: Improving primary data and using it for threat assessment and in situ conservation planning in South America. Cali, Colombia: International Centre for Tropical Agriculture. http://www.oas.org/dsd/IABIN/Component3/CIAT/Informe%20de%20Avance.pdf

  • Koleff P, Tambutti M, March IJ, Esquivel R, Cantú C, Lira-Noriega A et al. (2009) Identificación de prioridades y análisis de vacíos y omisiones en la conservación de la biodiversidad de México. In Capital natural de México, Vol. II_: Estado de conservación y tendencias de cambio_. Mexico City: CONABIO, 651-718. http://bit.ly/1U3Kzpd

  • Mair L & Ruete A (2016) Explaining Spatial Variation in the Recording Effort of Citizen Science Data across Multiple Taxa. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0147796. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0147796

  • Meyer C, Weigelt P & Kreft H (2016) Multidimensional biases, gaps and uncertainties in global plant occurrence information. Ecology Letters. doi:10.1111/ele.12624

  • NEW: Meyer C, Jetz W, Guralnick RP, Fritz SA, Kreft H (2016), Range geometry and socio-economics dominate species-level biases in occurrence information. Global Ecology and Biogeographydoi:10.1111/geb.12483

  • Meyer, C, Kreft H, Guralnick R & Jetz W (2015) Global priorities for an effective information basis of biodiversity distributions. Nature Communications 6: 8221. doi:10.1038/ncomms9221

  • NEW: Orlikowska EH, Roberge JM, Blicharska M & Mikusiński G (2016) Gaps in ecological research on the world’s largest internationally coordinated network of protected areas: A review of Natura 2000. Biological Conservation 200: 216-227. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2016.06.015

  • Otegui J, Ariño AH, Encinas MA & Pando F_ (_2013) Assessing the primary data hosted by the Spanish node of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). PLoS ONE 8(1): e55144. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055144

  • Peterson AT, Navarro-Sigüenza AG & Benítez-Díaz H (2008) The need for continued scientific collecting: A geographic analysis of Mexican bird specimens. Ibis 140(2):  288-294. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1998.tb04391.x

  • Pino-Del-Carpio A, Ariño, AH, Villarroya A, Puig J & Miranda R (2014) The biodiversity data knowledge gap: Assessing information loss in the management of Biosphere Reserves. Biological Conservation 173: 74-79. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2013.11.020

  • Rubio Teso ML, Ronquillo Ferrero C, Nebreda Trejo A, Parra Quijano M, Torres Lamas E & Iriondo Alegría JM _(_2015) In situ conservation of CWR in Spain: present and future. Crop Wild Relative 10: 24-26. http://www.pgrsecure.bham.ac.uk/sites/default/files/documents/newsletters/CWR_Issue_10.pdf

  • Soberón J, Llorente J & Benítez H (1996) An international view of national biological surveys. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 83(4): 562–573. doi:10.2307/2399997

  • Sousa-Baena MS, Couto Garcia L & Peterson AT (2013) Completeness of digital accessible knowledge of the plants of Brazil and priorities for survey and inventory. Diversity and Distributions 20(4): 369-381. doi:10.1111/ddi.12136

  • NEW: Stropp J, Ladle RJ, Malhado ACM, Hortal J, Gaffuri J, Temperley WH, Olav Skøien J & Mayaux P (2016), Mapping ignorance: 300 years of collecting flowering plants in Africa. Global Ecology and Biogeographydoi:10.1111/geb.12468

  • NEW: Troia MJ & McManamay RA (2016) Filling in the GAPS: evaluating completeness and coverage of open-access biodiversity databases in the United States. Ecology and Evolutiondoi:10.1002/ece3.2225

  • Wetzel F, Hoffmann A, Kroupa A et al_._ (2014) EU BON Deliverable 1.1: Gap analysis and priorities for filling identified gaps in data coverage and quality. Berlin: Museum für Naturkunde and Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science. http://www.gbif.fr/sites/default/files/documents/eu_bon_deliverable_1_1_final_v30.pdf

Details of the 2nd annual GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge are now available

The Ebbe Nielsen Challenge is an annual incentive prize held by GBIF—the Global Biodiversity Information Facility—which encourages innovation in the field of biodiversity informatics.