Is machine learning the future of species conservation? The grouping of data related to biodiversity by museums and the development of big data solutions are driving this trend.

The role of big data in matters related to biodiversity is increasing. A living being leaves a huge amount of data that is hard to conceive for the human mind. This is something that excites researchers in this field. Following the same trend, natural history museums are building their databases and opening them for the general public. Grégory Labrousse

The Natural History Museum in London and its “counterpart”, the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, have provided people with open access to its database to facilitate knowledge.

With contributions from people all over the world, they have developed a gigantic database called PREDICT that acts as a tool for the predictive analysis of the evolution of biodiversity. It contains no less than 3.2 million records from more than 26,000 locations and represents more than 47,000 species.

Monitoring of species conservation with data

This innovation is in line with the recommendations given by the IT giants. In an article published in the British newspaper The Guardian, Microsoft suggests monitoring the conservation of species and biodiversity through the use of intelligent sensors (camera, microphone, etc.) that would collect data and use artificial intelligence to capture highresolution images that they would help understand the use of the land and its patterns. This US firm also encourages governments and scientists to build a digital dashboard to manage biodiversity.

“Some companies have created apps with which users can provide data in exchange for information about species and access to the main database” says Grégory Labrousse, founder and CEO of nam.R. “An example of this is the company Leafsnap, which has  created an app that allows you to identify trees through photographs of their leaves and fruits. This app uses machine learning technologies, such as image recognition algorithms” he adds.

The data from this application can be used to understand the impact of natural or manmade disasters on the tree population.

Consumer applications for biodiversity

To help conserve plant and animal species, innovative projects in this field have already developed practical solutions that are accessible to the general public.

How to know who will be future French champions in biodiversity?

In June 2016, the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and the Sea, organized ackathon #HackBiodiv and awarded new talents. Some of these are mentioned below:

InvasivAlerte: is an application that detects the presence of invasive species in real time through the analysis of queries made in search engines and social networks. Its users can also inform the presence of these species by sharing a geolocated photo.
Greenwatch: Allows you to identify a species by taking a photograph. The photo is analyzed by the artificial intelligence application of Google which allows to know to what species corresponds.
MapPollen: this application uses the geolocated data of the different tree species and identifies the areas that are most prone to pollen allergens. For this, it uses the data of the National Museum of Natural History and the open data of some cities.

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