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GigaBlitz event seeks citizen scientists to capture images of nearby biodiversity
Date:11/10/2011

PITTSBURGH -- From a bike path in Montana to a backwater underneath a highway overpass in Austria, citizen scientists fanned out last June to capture high-resolution images for the first Nearby Nature GigaBlitz. Organizers are hoping for even broader participation in their efforts to document global biodiversity as they prepare for the second GigaBlitz, scheduled for the solstice week of Dec. 19-26.

The GigaBlitz is organized by a trio of biologists and their partners at Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab. It is similar in concept to a BioBlitz, an intensive survey that attempts to identify all living species within an area at a given time. But instead of sending a bunch of volunteers into a park or nature preserve to do a count, GigaBlitz asks people to create high-resolution panoramic images of their backyards, nearby woodlots or adjacent vacant lots. Participants around the world can then access these images, crowdsourcing the process of species identification.

"The idea is that biodiversity isn't something you find just in a distant national park or some far-flung field site, but it's around all of us, all of the time," said Ken Tamminga, professor of landscape architecture at Penn State University and one of the event organizers. "Gigapixel imagery is a means for us to record and share data for sites that may be widely separated, but nevertheless are part of our everyday lives."

About 80 people participated in the inaugural GigaBlitz during the June solstice and uploaded images from 15 countries to the GigaPan website, said Mary Jo Daines, who coordinates the GigaBlitz for the CREATE Lab in the Robotics Institute. The best of these images will be featured in an upcoming issue of GigaPan Magazine, the lab's online publication.

Among them is an image of a residual part of the Danube River beneath a highway overpass in Vienna, Austria; croplands in Brazil; and a vegetable garden in Spain. Others are a bike path near West Glacier, Mont.;
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Contact: Byron Spice
bspice@cs.cmu.edu
412-268-9068
Carnegie Mellon University
Source:Eurekalert

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