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What is SpongeMaps?

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SpongeMaps works best with a modern browser like Chrome or Firefox

   SpongeMaps is a tool to promote unidentified or partially identified sponge collections to the level of Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs), or morphospecies concepts.


  • This online collaboration will expose multiple sponge collections moving them from the realm of “the unknown” to “the known” (including recognition of new taxa).
  • Comparison of image and other data from multiple datasets in real time will facilitate picking up misidentifications and other uncertain allocations promulgated by researchers working in isolation, including lack of access to the vast, largely antiquated primary taxonomic literature.
  • It will provide Members with a real-time forum to collaborate on taxonomic decisions, and provide outcomes to the Public from these collaborations much faster than traditional sources of data delivery.
  • Datasets may include morphometric, images, georeferenced specimens, DNA sequences and chemical structures, contributed by members of the sponge taxonomic community.
  • SpongeMaps datasets (individual “species pages”) that are released online also provide morphological information that supports published molecular data (such as the Sponge Barcoding Database and the Sponge Genetree Server), and context to GIS information released on geospatial data portals via GBIF and its partners.
  • The ultimate goal of SpongeMaps is to aggregate specimens from multiple collections into a single OTU system, eventually providing a stronger basis to formally name and publically release taxa (known and new species) via biodiversity informatics online databases and the peer-reviewed literature.
  • The Members Portal is a password protected working space where individuals can collaborate in real time. Once individuals or consortia of collaborators agree SpongeMaps provides tools to release these taxa (“species pages”) to the Encyclopaedia of Life, Atlas of Living Australia and other appropriate GBIF member databases.
  • The Public Portal shows only those species that have been released online by the owners of the data, or through mutual agreement of consortia of collaborators where multiple data sources are used. These may be published as formal taxa or OTUs depending on individuals or consortia purposes (e.g. unnamed species underpinning a chemical or molecular profile/ dataset).

Search here to see what a SpongeMap looks like.


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