Lounsbery workshop award

We are delighted to announce the 1st Lounsbery workshop award. This has been awarded to Kerry Howell from Plymouth University.

Kerry will be using these funds to host a workshop on the development of a standardised deep-sea species image catalogue for the North Atlantic. This workshop will develop training materials for field identification of taxa from images. The one-day workshop will be held at Plymouth University, and the virtual platform Zoom will be used to ensure participation of those unable to be there in person. More details on the dates and how to register for this workshop can be found below:

Training workshop in the identification of cold water corals from image data

6th December 2017, Plymouth University, UK.

Funded by the Deep Sea Biology Society/Richard Lounsbery Foundation

The use of cameras to study the fauna of hard ground regions (seamounts, canyons etc.) and sensitive habitats (cold-water coral reefs) has seen rapid growth over the last 10 years. This growth is set to continue as new robotic and autonomous technology becomes more widely adopted as research tools. The use of images to collect faunal data brings with it the challenge of the identification of taxa from image data. When identifying taxa from image data, well-trained researchers use a combination of traditional taxonomic features and ecological data (e.g. depth, location, knowledge of the local species pool) to arrive at decisions on a taxon ID. This ‘field identification’ skill is often acquired through an ‘oral tradition’ with little in the way of formalised training materials provided to new researchers entering the field. This is a great hindrance to their progress and something the community must address as we move forward into a new era of deep-sea exploration and exploitation.

This one day workshop will focus on the field identification of cold water corals. Taxonomic experts will present on the key taxonomic features, visible in images, that can be used to distinguish coral taxa, the level of identification it is ‘safe’ to go to for a particular group, the current status of the taxonomy of key groups, and taxa where further sampling is really needed. Workshop participants will then be given the opportunity to put their new knowledge into practice on image data, and to test their ID skills. The workshop will conclude with a discussion of what the community feels is needed to help raise standards and properly train new researchers.

If you are interested in attending this workshop please email: coralworkshop@plymouth.ac.uk to register. Spaces are limited and will operate on a first come first served basis. Travel information is available here https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/your-university/visit/getting-here. There are lots of good B&Bs and hotels around the city centre, Barbican and Hoe, all within easy walking distance of the University.

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