One of the greatest frustrations for researchers in the Neotropics is the difficulty in communicating with other researchers. Published information about most species is scattered in different publications, and researchers in remote areas often don’t have easy access to public or institutional libraries.
To address this, Cornell Lab of Ornithology research associate Tom Schulenberg, one of the authors of Birds of Peru, and a team of Information Science staff at the Lab headed by Jeff Gerbracht, have initiated an ambitious new project, Neotropical Birds Online, which will be an authoritative and comprehensive online resource for life histories of Neotropical birds comparable in scope to the Birds of North America Online.
The in-depth species accounts for Neotropical Birds Online are intended primarily for ornithologists, especially those based in the Neotropics, but will also prove useful to wildlife biologists, conservationists, birders with strong interests in avian natural history, and biology teachers and students. It will be available to all free of charge.
The long-term plan is to open up Neotropical Birds Online species accounts to contributions and edits by other competent observers following a Wikipedia model, so as people make new discoveries that fill in gaps in the knowledge base about a species, the information can quickly be added.
Neotropical Birds Online will ultimately include species accounts for all birds that regularly occur in the Neotropics, from Mexico and the Caribbean south to southernmost South America.
Originally published in the January 2009 issue of BirdScope.
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