BIL: Biogeographic Image Library

A repository for incidental images of organisms
photographed in the field


There is a wealth of data in the photographs naturalists take, or could be taking, while in the field. This data is generally not being capitalized upon. Many organisms can be identified from an image, and even if this is not possible, taxa can matched within and across sites, with some degree of confidence (dependent on qualility of image, expertise of matcher, taxonomic group). Hence, biogeographic data can be generated for taxa among sites, even though different naturalists have taken the photographs.

This website will explore the potential for storing, accessing and analysing such data. This project is just beginning, but we have a set of images from woody plants in Cambodian forest as an example. Eventually we hope to have sections on

  • techniques (based around sampling with digital cameras),
  • image search methods (visual and automated),
  • known limits to matching confidence for different taxonomic groups,
  • and, of course, image libraries by biogeogrphic region.
Our expertise is in woody plants of tropical forests, but there is no reason to limit the taxanomic scope of this project. See Robin Foster's website for an excellent example of the use of digital images in taxonomy and floristics, and the SALVIAS project for an example of how to database floristic data from multiple sites.

Please check back soon!