Rietvlei Wetland Area, Cape Town

Gigapan: Tian Olivier

GigaBlitz December 2011

We, three biodiversity scientists (and editors of this issue), have been the privileged recipients of support through the Fine Outreach for Science (FOFS) program to encourage the use of Gigapans and gigapixel imagery in science, education and art. Linked as "Fine Fellows" and as alumni and faculty of the University of Guelph, Ontario Canada, the three of us (Alex Smith, Ken Tamminga, and Dennis vanEngelsdorp) converged on Pittsburgh for the inaugural Fine International Conference on GigaPixel Imaging for Science (November 11-13, 2010). Over coffee(s) we began talking about the synergy and thoughtfulness that emerges when disciplines and researchers can cross-pollinate. Biologists, landscape architects, geologist, anthropologists, citizens, teachers, farmers - all gathered to share and learn how this tool for gixapixel imagery could be used.

In those conversations we soon focused on how Gigapan scientists, artists and citizens might capture, document and annotate their local landscapes - the nearby and not necessarily the exotic. The challenge was to use empowering high-resolution Gigapan imaging to connect people to the nearby biodiversity in their own living space. Not a far flung field site, or an iconic-but-distant National Park, but your local woodlot at work, or backyard or nearby running trail. We imagined using these widely separated, but nearby, panoramas as a way of collecting biodiversity data - similar to the Christmas bird count - where citizen scientists surveyed their world, then distributed and shared that data with the world through public Gigapans. The plus of the Gigapan approach was that the sharing was bi-directional - not merely "this is what I saw", but also hearing someone say, "this is what I found in your Gigapan."

This project would not be possible without support from the Fine Outreach for Science and the Fine Foundation, Illah Nourbakhsh and the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, Gigapan, and the Nearby Nature December 2011 Jurors:

• Theresa Crimmins, Partnerships & Outreach Coordinator, USA National Phenology Network
• Chris Fastie, Visiting Scholar, Middlebury College
• Mary Jo Daines, CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University
• Molly Gail Mehling, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Sustainability, Chatham University
• Illah Nourbakhsh, Carnegie Mellon University
• Alex Smith, Assistant Professor, Integrative Biology, University of Guelph & The Biodiversity Institute of Ontario
• Molly Steinwald, Associate Director of Science Education, Phipps Conservatory
• Ken Tamminga, Professor of Landscape Architecture, Penn State University
• Christopher Tracey, Conservation Planning Coordinator, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
• Dennis vanEngelsdorp, Assistant Research Scientist, Department of Entomology, University of Maryland

Here are some of their comments on the images featured in this issue:
 

Jury's Top Selection

Palmeira em flor, Mogi das Cruzes by Eduardo Frick

Juror comments:
"a great fesival of pollinators - what else could you want!" · "one of the very best "nearby" shots of group. There's a microcosm of small creatures." · "feasting on nectars and pollens - a joy to zoom in on and pan around." · "very rich with species; a real microcosm on a single tree."
 

Finalists

Hardwood Ridge by Schrader Environmental Center

Juror comments:
"captures nature's resilience to human modification." · "evidence of the continuation of plant life cycles - mosses, fungi, and insects are working to break down the logs so that other things might grow there."
 

Lake of Ivars-II, Catalonia, Spain by Josep Giribet

Juror comments:
"excellent vantage of an important south European wetland sanctuary amidst an ancient agricultural landscape." · "the accompanying story describes long human manipulation of this landscape."
 

Madrona Marsh, Torrance, California, USA by John Post

Juror comments:
"though clearly very impacted by human activity, is still somewhat natural, species-rich." · "vividly the striking contrast in landscape textures between the urbanized and the more natural landscape." · "tension between human development and maintenance of natural landscapes is emphasized."
 

Rietvlei Wetland Area, Cape Town by Tian Olivier

Juror comments:
"the more you look the more birds you see." · "dramatic: looming mountains, urban sprawl, infrastructure - all pressing in on a threatened wetland ecosystem and its attendant flocks of wading birds." · "cleverly illustrates the embeddedness of human development within a landscape."
 

My Backyard, Atlanta, Georgia, USA by Vicki Hertzberg

Juror comments:
"good effort in identifying life-forms." · "a healthy backyard garden." · "visually captivating."
 

Iwate Prefecture, Japan by by Inforanger 311

Juror comments:
"love the intersection of people and their environment here!" · "I wish I knew more about the story behind this picture."
 

Cikaniki Stream, Indonesia by Primaseason

Juror comments:
"this group of Indonesian high school students is to be commended for crafting a very well- framed gigapan." · "the stream and its riparian area breathe life."
 

Pt. Vicente Lighthouse & Catalina Island by John Post

Juror comments:
"very visually pleasing landscape." · "tells such a rich story about the power of natural processes, the complexity of habitat, and the relationship between the human and non-human worlds." · "gorgeous lighting, composition and complexity."
 

Dairy Bush GigaPan 122, Guelph, Canada by Alex Smith

Juror comments:
"excellent identification of variety of tree species." · "the dairy bush series is a fixture on the Gigapan website; it has its own gallery that's worth seeing." · "biodiversity and landscape change themes, season-by-season, are expertly interpreted."
 

Guest Editors

Ken Tamminga is professor of landscape architecture and on the ecology faculty at Penn State University. His interests include ecological design and restoration, riparian urbanism, and regeneration of degraded social-ecological places. His work in inner-city Pittsburgh, Ghana, and the low Himalayas seeks to promote community/landscape co-resilience in the face of climate change and other stressors.

Dennis vanEngelsdorp is a Sr. Extension Associate at Penn State University. His research interests include honey bee epidemiology and pollinator health. He is the director of the Beeinformed.org partnership, and will join the entomology department at the University of Maryland in January 2012.

Alex Smith is a professor of molecular ecology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. His interests include biodiversity and cryptic species. He works in both field and laboratory to integrate field and molecular biology into questions of ecological and evolutionary importance to conservation.

This project was produced by Mary Jo Daines. Since 2008, Mary Jo has worked in the CREATE Lab helping scientists around the world use Gigapan to document and communicate their research with their peers and the public.

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