Section: Zoology
Topic: Applied biological sciences

A pipeline for assessing the quality of images and metadata from crowd-sourced databases

10.24072/pcjournal.205 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 2 (2022), article no. e81.

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Crowd-sourced biodiversity databases provide easy access to data and images for ecological education and research. One concern with using publicly sourced databases; however, is the quality of their images, taxonomic descriptions, and geographical metadata. The method presented in this paper attempts to address this concern using a suite of pipelines to evaluate taxonomic consistency, how well geo-tagging fits known distributions, and the image quality of crowd-sourced data acquired from iNaturalist, a crowd-sourced biodiversity database. Additionally, it provides researchers that use these datasets to report a quantifiable assessment of the taxonomic consistency. The pipeline allows users to analyze multiple images from iNaturalist and their associated metadata; to determine the level of taxonomic identification (family, genera, species) for each occurrence; whether the taxonomy label for an image matches accepted nesting of families, genera, and species; and whether geo-tags match the distribution of the taxon described using occurrence data from the Global Biodiversity Infrastructure Facility (GBIF) as a reference. Additionally, image quality is assessed using BRISQUE, an algorithm that allows for image quality evaluation without a reference photo. Entries from the order Araneae (spiders) are used as a case study. Overall, the results suggest that iNaturalist can provide large metadata and image sets for research. Given the inevitability of some low-quality observations, this pipeline provides a valuable resource for researchers and educators to evaluate the quality of iNaturalist and other crowd-sourced data.

Published online:
DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.205
Type: Software tool
Billotte, Jackie 1, 2

1 Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
2 The Butterfly Pavilion, Brighton, CO, USA
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
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Billotte, Jackie. A pipeline for assessing the quality of images and metadata from crowd-sourced databases. Peer Community Journal, Volume 2 (2022), article  no. e81. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.205.

PCI peer reviews and recommendation, and links to data, scripts, code and supplementary information: 10.24072/pci.zool.100017

Conflict of interest of the recommender and peer reviewers:
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article.

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