eMonocot is a project developing a sustainable, integrated, web-based biodiversity information resource on monocots, ca. 20% of the flowering plants. Monocots contain plant taxa of the highest conservation, ecological and economic importance, such as orchids, grasses, sedges and palms and provide 75% of human nutrition.
eMonocot, a consortium from RBG Kew, the Natural History Museum (NHM) and Oxford University, was funded in 2010 via a grant from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The 3-year grant will enable the team to build a novel biodiversity web-resource for monocot plants.
The overarching objective of eMonocot is to produce a web-based treatment of monocot plants, targeted at biodiversity and environmental scientists, but available to all users including volunteer biologists, the general public and schools. It will provide biodiversity information such as nomenclature, taxonomic descriptions, images, identification guides, geographical, ecological, DNA sequence and conservation data structured around a taxonomy derived from the World Checklist of Monocotyledons (www.apps.kew.org/wcsp/monocots/home.do), from which 70,000 outline species pages will be generated. Within the lifetime of the project, comprehensive species pages will be built for European monocots (~2000 species), "Sampled Red List Index" monocots (1500 species) and slipper orchids (~130 species). Interactive keys and pages for monocot families and over 2000 genera in selected families will also be created. Software resources will be developed to encourage the participation of the global community of monocot taxonomists in eMonocot via scratchpads (http://scratchpads.eu). Importantly, the eMonocot platform will be designed so that it can be applied to data from other groups of organisms, not just plants.
RBG Kew is the lead organisation for eMonocot. In addition to coordinating the project, the Kew team will be tasked with generating content for the site, exploiting existing sources, creating new content from scratch and encouraging the global monocot community to contribute data. The latter process will be facilitated by workshops for monocot systematists in 2012. eMonocot will be closely integrated with Kew’s IT and Digital Media Strategy Programme (in particular the SHS project) and existing RBG Kew web resources such as CATE-Araceae (www.cate-araceae.org), Palmweb (www.palmweb.org) and GrassBase (http://www.kew.org/data/grasses-syn/), which represent important building blocks of the eMonocot system. The NHM team will focus on creating social structures and working practices that will facilitate the global interactions envisaged for eMonocot via scratchpads. They will also develop web-based metrics to quantify the contribution of taxonomists to biodiversity science and ensure that the working model established for eMonocot can be extended readily to animal groups. In Oxford, a team of software developers will work closely with developers in Kew to generate a portal which will deliver the data from eMonocot scratchpads to biodiversity scientists and other users in forms appropriate to their needs.
eMonocot builds on the success of the NERC-funded Kew/NHM/Oxford CATE (Creating a Taxonomic eScience) project as well as ground-breaking developments in eTaxonomy facilitated by EDIT (European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy). The project is closely linked with key international stakeholders in biodiversity informatics, such as the Encylopedia of Life (EoL), the Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Though focused on a specific plant group, eMonocot is among the most ambitious eTaxonomy projects yet attempted and has the potential to revolutionise the way taxonomic data are organised and accessed by both the practitioners and users of taxonomy.
Project Leader: Wilkin, Paul
Herbarium, Library, Art & Archives
Bill Baker, Ruth Bone, Lauren Gardiner, Anna Haigh, Simon Mayo, Dave Simpson, Anna Trias, Soraya Villalba, Maria Vorontsova, Odile Weber
Abigail Barker, Jo Kelly
Project Partners and Collaborators
Swiss Orchid Foundation, Basel
Morton Arboretum/Andrew Hipp
NHM/Vince Smith (Consortium member organisation)
University of Oxford/Charles Godfray (Consortium member organisation)
Natural Environment Research Council