Why Google is Good for Science

Poking around on the linkurl:iSpecies blog;http://ispecies.blogspot.com/2006/01/antweb-google-earth-map.html today, I found a comment alerting readers to linkurl:an interesting little tool;http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/pfk/pages/DEVmapform.php on the online version of __Practical Fishkeeping__, "the UK's best-selling aquarium magazine." Fish Mapper is an applet that plots fish distribution data, culled from an online service called linkurl:FishBase;http://www.Fishbase.org , us

By | January 20, 2006

Poking around on the linkurl:iSpecies blog;http://ispecies.blogspot.com/2006/01/antweb-google-earth-map.html today, I found a comment alerting readers to linkurl:an interesting little tool;http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/pfk/pages/DEVmapform.php on the online version of __Practical Fishkeeping__, "the UK's best-selling aquarium magazine." Fish Mapper is an applet that plots fish distribution data, culled from an online service called linkurl:FishBase;http://www.Fishbase.org , using Google Maps. For each specimen the map illustrates where it was isolated (latitude/longitude data), its museum accession number, and the year of harvest. The tool is similar to linkurl:AntWeb;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15878/ , which we covered this past November. AntWeb, the California Academy of Sciences' online resource for all things "ant-y", allows users -- lay and scientist alike -- to browse or search the Academy's extensive collection of ant specimens within Google Earth, which overlays the collection (that is, where the samples were isolated) on a world map or satellite image. I expect we'll see more specimen collections making their way onto Google Earth and Google Maps. That's because they are, at heart, basically just data presentation tools, linkurl:more akin to Adobe Acrobat than to desktop GIS systems.;http://www.digitalearth.com.au/2005/08/17/google-earth-notes/. Imagine how valuable such a readily accessible system could be to botanists or microbiologists, for instance. Instead of presenting data in tabular form your colleagues would see an intuitive interface mapping samples with their locations, images, accession numbers, and perhaps related URLs. linkurl:All you need;http://www.keyhole.com/GoogleEarthHelp/Importing/Importing_GIS_Data_Into_Google_Earth.htm is a publicly accessible file that links sample data to GPS coordinates. With handheld GPS receivers dropping in price, it's becoming more and more simple to collect this data.

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