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Lite Event is Anything but Lightweight

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Tuesday, April 28, 2020

On April 16-19, the ANHC hosted its first ever spring event (online only) for WeDigBio Lite. Volunteers worked on herbarium transcriptions for the Plants of Arkansas Project on the online platform Notes from Nature (NfN). WeDigBio, Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections, is an international transcription blitz that usually occurs in October. A transcription blitz is an event that encourages people worldwide to transcribe natural history specimens, herbarium specimens, or other physical records into a digital format during the same specified time period, usually over a period of days.

Transcription blitzes in the past have included local, in-person gatherings that provide volunteers with opportunities to see herbarium collections and ask questions of curators, building a sense of community. The recent WeDigBio Lite campaign gave volunteers the opportunity to do something similar while still following COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. The event included access to online presentations from experts including Dr. Peter Oboyski, Essig Museum of Entomology and Dr. Laura Brenskelle, University of Florida. Volunteers working on the Plants of Arkansas Project were able to participate in virtual meetings with the ANHC’s Chief of Research and Herbarium Curator, Theo Witsell; ANHC’s Botanist and Arkansas Herbarium Digitization Coordinator, Diana Soteropoulos; University of Arkansas Herbarium Collections Manager, Jennifer Ogle; Arkansas State University (ASU) Science Club Organizer and Instructor, Kari Harris; and ASU (STAR) Herbarium Curator and Plants of Arkansas Project founder, Dr. Travis Marsico.

During the WeDigBio Lite blitz, 112 people transcribed 6,832 images in the Plants of Arkansas Project, which averages to more than 1,000 transcriptions per day and a new record for the project during a WeDigBio event. The day with the highest number of transcriptions during the Lite event was Sunday, with 2,603, which was also the second highest transcription day ever for the Plants of Arkansas Project. In comparison, more transcriptions were completed by the end of April 19 than during the entire month of March!

Three members of the Central Arkansas Master Naturalists (CAMN) completed the highest number of transcriptions: Angela Corlett, Rob King, and Lynn Jessop. During the WeDigBio event, more than 15 people completed over 100 transcriptions each for the Plants of Arkansas Project.

WeDigBio Lite was a successful event in terms of the number of transcriptions, but also because it gave people another way to connect with each other while still following COVID-10 safety guidelines. If you would like more information about the Plants of Arkansas project on Notes from Nature and a document describing how to transcribe, please contact Diana Soteropoulos at [email protected] .

Photos: Top – During the October WeDigBio event, ANHC's Chief of Research and Herbarium Curator, Theo Witsell, led a tour of the ANHC Herbarium and lab, demonstrating behind-the-scenes processing of herbarium specimens.

Bottom – ASU Herbarium Curator and Plants of Arkansas Project founder, Dr. Travis Marsico, participated in the WeDigBio Lite event from home with his family. The Marsicos completed close to 100 transcriptions. Marsico's daughter, Hannah, was even able to transcribe one of her dad's herbarium specimens. 



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