Science & Technology
2:00 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Third Nature Gigablitz: Where Photography And Biology Combine

Carnegie Mellon University will host the Nature Gigablitz event from June 20-26, where anyone and everyone can submit documentation of biodiversity in their neighborhoods. Photos are shared and made available for analysis from participants all over the world.

Alex Smith, an assistant professor of integrated biology at Guelph University in Ontario, Canada, explained the word "Gigablitz" is a mash-up of the terms "GigaPan" and "BioBlitz." GigaPan is a panoramic photography technology and a BioBlitz is an intensive survey where people gather to observe and identify all species present at a specific time and place.

Ken Tamminga, a professor of landscape architecture at Penn State University, and Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a research scientist at the University of Maryland's Department of Entomology, and their partners at Carnegie Mellon's CREATE Lab are also a part of the planning.

Smith added the event is much bigger than it appears. "Using this technology as a tool to link up people across the world with this one interest or this one question, what we end up with is something that's stronger than any one of the researchers, one of the biologists, that are involved in this as coordinators. It's much more powerful than any of us saying, 'Well, what I'd like to do is to all travel around the world and take pictures wherever I end up going,'" Smith said.

The summer and winter solstices have been popular times of the year to hold a Gigablitz because of differing seasons in various parts of the world. "In the June example, we'll see lots of different green and seething things in the northern hemisphere and then vice versa, when we have participation from the equator we're looking at different seasons of wet and dry, and so it really it was kind of these cardinal points in the year that we could choose that were easy to insert into a calendar," Smith said.