Considered one of the world's megadiverse countries, Colombia and its area of 2 million km2 is recognized for its richness of terrestrial species studied for more than 200 years. In contrast, research in the nearly 900,000 km2 marine areas is relatively recent and diversity knowledge is still sparse.
The Biodiversity Information System of Colombia (SiB Colombia) currently has more than 8M records of which only about 69,000 are of marine origin and only 10 per cent come from natural history collections—showing the critical gap in the representativeness and underestimation of the national marine inventories. The country's collections hold numerous marine specimens, but due to the lack of infrastructure, technical and human resources have a minimal capacity for data management.
Led by the Marine and Coastal Research Institute (INVEMAR), through the Marine Natural History Museum of Colombia, in conjunction with the country's Natural History Collections, universities, and national networks for the management of natural diversity (OBIS and GBIF), this project proposal seeks to strengthen the national biodiversity information infrastructure by 1) increasing availability of marine/coastal data from biological collections, 2) generating national species lists, and 3) enhancing the data management capabilities of both the collections community and other interested providers and users such as students and researchers.
The data will be mobilized to the OBIS-GBIF network, thus helping fulfill the national biodiversity goal by 2030, making 10 million records available. Products of the project include about 11,000 occurrence records from collections, a national reference list, and at least three datapapers. Likewise, five training workshops and outreach activities are planned to focus on improving marine data management capacities and promoting the benefits of sharing and using open data.
From the start of the project, the focus has been digitization, and during the second half of 2022 the focus will be on training and dissemination which will be emphasized through different workshops, without stopping working on data management.
To date, several virtual meetings for planning have been held with different experts. The first dataset has been published and one of the team members has achieved his basic certification.
It is worth highlighting the planning of a new activity related to the construction of the checklist. This is a polychaete taxonomy course that was proposed by several of the partner entities, as a complementary event to the workshop of experts that will carry out the project. Although the course is biological, the project will participate by presenting a module on marine data quality and information mobilization through the GBIF and OBIS biodiversity networks. This additional activity is expected to strengthen the data management processes associated with biological collections.