AmphibiaWeb has been an active member of the Alliance since the beginning of 2014 but with an increasing need for a coordinated data resource it was natural for AmphibiaWeb to take on a more formal role for the Alliance.
AmphibiaWeb, the web based platform that provides information on amphibian declines, natural history, conservation and taxonomy entered into a new partnership with the ASA at the end of 2014 to help fill the gaps in the coordinated sharing of amphibian related data. Established in 2000, they have a long established database.
As many of our readers know, the Alliance obtains many of its priority actions from the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. One of the identified actions was to “create and promote the use of data sharing tools.” To address this action the Alliance has been working with a number of partners to determine what resources were currently available, as well as what options may exist for creating such tools.
A recognized need is a central authority on amphibian science. AmphibiaWeb’s roots in the science community and in biodiversity informatics are important in this regard. Specifically, AmphibiaWeb tracks new species publications and localities, provides monthly amphibian declines literature, provides access to mapped species observations and range maps, as well as connects with amphibian experts around the world to provide vetted information on taxonomy, disease, and natural history. With about 20,000 queries per day and scores of scientists and herpetology students contributing photos, information and accounts each year, AmphibiaWeb has a growing and solid community of international users who are demonstrating their concern for the conservation of these unique animals.
“By partnering with AmphibiaWeb to create the Alliance’s “Science Zone” we are helping to build the resources of this important website but also helping to provide the science community with a one stop shop for all things related to amphibian data,” said Don Church, Executive Director of the Alliance.
Most importantly, the new partnership of AmphibiaWeb and ASA will lead to new collaborative projects. One of the first projects will be an interactive and disease-monitoring portal. Working with groups like Bd Maps, Bsal Maps, Ranavirus Maps and a number of labs and organizations, the Alliance and AmphibiaWeb will collaborate to develop a tool that can link databases and provide a range of tools for both sharing and analyzing disease-related data.
AmphibiaWeb’s professional steering committee has long envisioned creating such a portal to facilitate data exchange and visualization of disease outbreaks, especially important with newly emerging and quickly moving occurrences of chytrid fungus. “As we learn more about new strains of fungal disease and their disease dynamics,” David Wake, Director of AmphibiaWeb, states, “it is clear that monitoring with the most up-to-date data is key to making sound policy decisions to save amphibian species.”
The long-term goal of the Science Zone is the creation of a tool that will be as useful for amphibian researchers as it is for policy makers and educators alike, a truly collaborative platform that will be utilized by a range of stakeholders.
These types of projects are essential for the progress of amphibian conservation efforts around the world and the Alliance is eager to hear from groups that want to become involved in this project.