GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 225-1
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-1:00 PM


CURRANO, Ellen1, CLEVELAND, Claire2, CONTRERAS, Dori3, KOLL, Rebecca3, MEREDITH, Douglas4, PETERS, Shanan5, UHEN, Mark6 and ZAFFOS, Andrew7, (1)Department of Botany, University of Wyoming, 1000 E University Ave, Dept. 3165, Laramie, WY 82071-2000, (2)Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA 16802, (3)Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas, TX 75201, (4)Arizona Geological Survey, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, (5)Department of Geoscience, University of Wisconsin โ€“ Madison, Madison, WI 53706, (6)George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030, (7)Department of Geology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1215 West Dayton Street, Madison, WI 53706

Paleobotanical data is severely underrepresented in major publicly accessible databases, even though fossil plants represent the best record of ancient terrestrial environments. A major impediment to the inclusion of paleobotanical data in databases at meaningful levels of taxonomy is that plant parts are most often preserved separately, with varying potential for taxonomic resolution. Paleobotanists therefore commonly use morphologically-based, informal taxonomies (morphotypes) rather than traditional Linnaean classifications. The names given to a particular morphotype are inconsistent among research groups, and currently there is no data-management infrastructure that allows comparison and synonymizing of morphotypes among regions or time periods or with published formal taxonomies. As a result, a large proportion of the millions of fossil plant specimens housed in museums worldwide are, together with their spatio-temporal occurrence data, inaccessible for inclusion in studies of paleobiology, paleoclimatology, Earth system modeling, macroevolution, and macroecology.

In 2020, our group received EarthCube funding to address these problems by creating PBot, The Integrative Paleobotany Portal. PBot will consist of an online workbench and graph database that allow the paleobotanical community to (1) create novel, dynamic, community-sourced character schemas for describing plant fossils; (2) enter and browse informal and formal taxonomies via morphological characters; and (3) maintain a community forum for commentary on PBOT contents. It will work with and complement existing databases (iDigBio and the Paleobiology Database) to enhance utility and accessibility of paleobotanical data, allowing paleobotanists to easily fulfill NSF data management plans. Further, the online workbench will provide a standardized resource for fossil plant description and data entry that will benefit students and professionals, as well as fossil enthusiasts. Our team wants to create a system that is โ€œof the community, by the community, and for the community,โ€ and so we have organized two large virtual workshops to introduce the PBot design and solicit input.

  • Currano_PBot_GSA 2021 poster.pdf (14.8 MB)