One week of classifications

The Jungle Rhythms project is running for one week and classifications are coming in steadily. Currently, over 8,000 images have been classified by only a limited amount of users (218). Unless an army of unregistered users are pushing the effort a lot of credit goes to a relatively small but dedicated set of citizen scientists, rather remarkable. In the figure below you see a consistent steady stream of classifications (almost linear over time - on 18/12/2015). On the x-axis you see the date (+ time), on the y-axis you see the total classification count (top panel) and the number of classifications per day (bottom panel). The red vertical bars denote the new registered users who contributed to the project.

This week is also the week of the AGU conference, a the yearly meeting of geoscience scientists in San Francisco. I presented the Jungle Rhythms project and hope this will draw some attention to the project and potentially gather some more contributors.


Jungle Rhythms Statistics

First of all, hooray… the first subject in my project retired!!!

Furthermore, in order to track the progress of the project without downloading all classifications I wrote a little web scraper in R which grabs the summary statistics such as:

  • # registered users
  • # classifications
  • # subjects (images to classify)
  • retired subjects (these are finished)

I grab these statistics on a half hourly basis to track progress of the project over time. Every day I make a summary graph of these results. This summary graph can be found on the Jungle Rhythms landing page and below. In this graph I currently only plot the number of classified subjects over time, as well as the number of registered users.

This simple graph should give me an idea on the rate of progress of the project. Check in on a regular basis to see how things progress.

From a pale blue dot to distant frozen world

A little over 25 years ago, on July 6th 1990, the Voyager I space probe turned around and snapped one last picture of planet Earth and the solar system it was about to leave behind. More than 6 billion kilometers from the sun planet earth was only a pale blue dot, barely a pixel large.

[caption id=”” align=”alignleft” width=”792”] This is the “Pale Blue Dot” photograph of the Earth taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft on July 6, 1990. The Earth is the relatively bright speck of light about halfway across the uppermost sunbeam.[/caption]


Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. - Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

Yet, today, at roughly the same distance from the sun, the New Horizons mission delivered the sharpest photo of Pluto at the far edge of the solar system. The picture shows details the size of less than a city block. Again this is a testament to human ingenuity and drive to explore, but once more emphasizes that we are only “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam”. Humbling and rather amazing, if you think about it.

[caption id=”” align=”alignleft” width=”985”] Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI[/caption]



Jungle Rhythms Launch

Today I launch Jungle Rhythms, an online citizen-science project that aims to digitize thousands of pages of detailed observations of the life cycle of trees in Africa.

Belgian scientists were stationed at the Yangambi Research Station in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1938 until 1958 as part of an agriculture-based research project. During that time, the scientists – for reasons unknown– also began collecting detailed observations on the life cycle of trees in the local forest. Those observations were kept in a series of notebooks, and later summarized in large tables, which were discovered, nearly 80 years later, stored in an archive under less-than-ideal conditions.

To avoid losing the data as the pages crumbled, I digitized the tables in the hopes of using computers to automatically capture the data, but quickly realized the marks were simply too faint.

While the project’s ultimate goal is to preserve the data for future study, it also gives the public an up-close-and-personal view on how scientific research is conducted. To do so, I’ll be blogging about the project to keep users up to date on new exciting results, and any discoveries I make about the history of the data itself.

Aboveground vs. Belowground Carbon Stocks in African Tropical Lowland Rainforest

A new paper I co-authored in PLOS One just came online discussing divergence of above- and belowground carbon stocks in different forest types. In short, the study shows that despite similar vegetation, soil and climatic conditions, soil organic carbon stocks in an area with greater tree height (= larger aboveground carbon stock) were only half compared to an area with lower tree height (= smaller aboveground carbon stock).

This suggests that substantial variability in the aboveground vs. belowground C allocation strategy and/or C turnover in two similar tropical forest systems can lead to significant differences in total soil organic C content and C fractions with important consequences for the assessment of the total C stock of the system, with nutrient limitation, especially potassium, as the driver for divergent C allocation.

Congrats to Sebastian Doetterl and Elizabeth Kearsley for pushing this effort.


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