Data mobilization for key entomological groups across Caribbean Colombia

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Umbonia spinosa
Umbonia spinosa Fabricius observed in Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia by Jeir Ortega Galvan (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Despite its diversity and high levels of endemism, the Caribbean region of Colombia (CRC) remains as one of the areas with fewer biodiversity records and studies, particularly for insects. This situation is reflected in the low representation of the CRC in GBIF records, where only 14.4% of recorded Colombian insects come from this region, dropping to 9.6% if only preserved specimens are taken into account. Part of the problem stems from the lack of infrastructure in local collections to process specimen data.

This project is a concerted effort involving eight certified Colombian collections, aligned with the Política de Crecimiento Verde (Green Growth Policy) to promote and improve knowledge of Colombian biodiversity because of the low number of digitized specimens from collections and bias in biodiversity knowledge. This view is supported by the Colombian National Government through the National Strategy for Biodiversity Inventory.

The project team aims to significantly increase the number of digitized records for insects of the CRC, gathering data from local collections (Universidad del Magdalena, U. de Sucre, and U. del Atlántico) and national collections (Universidad Nacional de Colombia, U. Javeriana, U. de Antioquia, U. CES, and IAvH). Efforts will be directed towards digitizing well-represented groups in entomological collections, using national experts that can both identify specimens and likely use the recorded data.

The goal is to—at least—double the number of records in GBIF from the CRC and, by adding specimen images, facilitate identifications. With this proposal, local collections will benefit from improving their capacities for digitization, support and training students, generating information to be used by academics and decision-makers, regarding management, use, and conservation of natural resources.

Project progress

The project activities began with a digitalization workshop given to the staff in charge of this activity. In the same workshop, the protocols, and formats for capturing the records to be digitized were standardized.

To date, 9356 records have been digitized, corresponding to 76% of the total goal (12290 for all the collections and datasets).

Four activities were delivered on time:

  • Specimen organization, preparation, and cataloguing
  • Establishing and implementation of standards and workflows
  • Training of data entry personnel
  • Training in specimen imaging

These activities allowed the digitization of records a good speed, which has resulted in more than 76% of the records established as a goal have now been digitized.

The project contemplated publishing the data in Symbiota (i.e. Ecdysis), to later be used by SiB-Colombia. However, as a result of the meetings with representatives of SiB-Colombia , representatives of GBIF and collection curators, the decision was reached that the workflow should first contemplate the publication of data through the ITP of the SiB-Colombia and after the data is published in GBIF, these are taken to feed the future portals of each collection in Ecdysis.

By the second half of 2022, it is expected to have the portals in Ecdysis for the collections and to start the migration of data from GBIF. The project has been promoted on social media channels such as Twitter.

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Type of grant
National biodiversity data mobilization grant
10 July 2021 - 30 June 2023
Project identifier
Funded by
  • Universidad de Sucre
  • Universidad del Atlántico
  • SiB Colombia
  • Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt (IAvH)
  • Colección Entomológica - Museo Javeriano de Historia Natural
  • Laboratorio de Sistemática y Biología Comparada de Insectos, Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia
  • Natural Science Research Laboratory (NSRL), Museum of Texas Tech University
  • Entomological Collection of the Universidad de Antioquia (CEUA)
  • Instituto de Ecología, A.C. (INECOL)
  • Universidad del Magdalena
  • Universidad CES
Contact details

Larry Jimenez-Ferbans
Universidad del Magdalena, Vicerrectoría de Investigación
Carrera 32 No 22 – 08
470004 Santa Marta

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