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Award Abstract #1304425

Collaborative Research: Digitization TCN: Developing a Centralized Digital Archive of Vouchered Animal Communication Signals

Div Of Biological Infrastructure
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Initial Amendment Date: April 30, 2013
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Latest Amendment Date: April 13, 2015
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Award Number: 1304425
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Roland Roberts
DBI Div Of Biological Infrastructure
BIO Direct For Biological Sciences
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Start Date: July 1, 2013
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End Date: June 30, 2017 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $1,570,906.00
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Investigator(s): Michael Webster msw244@cornell.edu (Principal Investigator)
Edwin Scholes (Co-Principal Investigator)
Gregory Budney (Co-Principal Investigator)
Amy McCune (Co-Principal Investigator)
David Winkler (Co-Principal Investigator)
John Friel (Former Co-Principal Investigator)
Kimberly Bostwick (Former Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: Cornell University
373 Pine Tree Road
Ithaca, NY 14850-2820 (607)255-5014
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NSF Program(s): Digitization
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Program Reference Code(s): 6895
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Program Element Code(s): 6895


An award is made to establish a thematic collection network that will digitize and make accessible media recordings associated with physical voucher specimens, broadly organized around the research theme of understanding the evolution and ecology of communication signals. Research on these questions has been challenged by the relative inaccessibility of the signal recordings and their associated physical specimens. This project will meet this challenge by partnering together multiple biological research collections and the Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds, the world's largest scientific archive of animal signal recordings. Collectively, these institutions will co-curate and make accessible digitized and vouchered recordings of the communication signals of birds, frogs, fish and insects, and will establish direct and transparent links across collections between physical voucher specimens and their digitized recordings. This project will make accessible digital audio recordings of animal signals that can be used to address a host of scientific questions, including the responses of animals to anthropogenic noise and other human activities. By providing a useful co-curation system and encouraging collection of recordings along with physical specimens, this project will have a transformative influence on the way that researchers collect and use biological specimens in the future, and will serve as a useful model for collections facing similar co-curation challenges.

This project will also provide materials for extensive educational outreach at all age levels, and will have significant conservation impacts because the digitized material will contribute directly to our ability to assess and monitor biodiversity. Finally, this project will expand biological collection methods and help train the "next generation" of museum curators, collectors, and researchers. This award is made as part of the National Resource for Digitization of Biological Collections through the Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections program and all data resulting from this award will be available through the national resource (iDigBio.org).


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Budney GF, McQuay W, Webster MS. "Transitioning the largest archive of animal sounds from analogue to digital," Journal of Digital Media Management, v.2, 2014, p. 212.

Lavoué S, Sullivan J. "Petrocephalus boboto and Petrocephalus arnegardi, two new species of African electric fish (Osteoglossomorpha, Mormyridae) from the Congo River basin," ZooKeys, v.400, 2014, p. 43. 


Please report errors in award information by writing to: awardsearch@nsf.gov.



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