The EtherBio Project

Wireless access to global expertise (in systematics)

Welcome to the report and information pages of the EtherBio project. Cam Webb and Michael Donoghue (Yale University) received a small NSF grant to explore the potential for using modern wireless technology to increase the efficiency of biodiversity field surveys. These pages document the goals and current findings of this work.


As global biodiversity dissappears, the need to record species occurences and behavior, and biodiversity patterns becomes ever greater. However, time spent by biologists in the field is limited and expensive. No one individual can master all fields of systematics, and know when a species in an unfamiliar taxa should be recorded or collected. Being able to draw on the expertise of the global systematics community in real-time (or at least very rapidly) would greatly increase the efficiency of the field-worker. The technology for real-time global communication over the internet now exists. We are developing models to extend this network to the most remote areas of the earth, where land-lines and cell-phone networks do not reach, and at a cost that is not prohibitive.


  • To develop model systems for data transfer and communication between a field biologist anywhere in the world and office-based expertise anywhere in the world.
  • The technology used should be light-weight, as cheap as possible, use off-the-shelf components, and be as automated as possible.
  • The application of spread-spectrum radio links should be explored.
  • Full details of the model(s) should be published on the web (and advertised in print publications).
  • The educational applications should also be explored.

Model 1 - Live transmission of text and still images

Model 2 - Live transmission of moving images

Under development.

Go to live page from field

Download PDF of poster given at ESA 2002