A live map of samples collected for the global coral microbiome project is now up on the Vega Thurber lab web page. Ryan McMinds linked together the more than 3,400 raw sample photos for the project, which are on Flickr, with their overall map coordinates. (You can also find pretty reef photos and some tourist pics of down time from the expeditions).
The fidelity of GPS and satellite imagery being what it is, I’ve found the map to be useful in getting a broad sense of where samples were taken in relation to broad geographic features, and also the detailed surroundings of each coral.
For example, the proximity of some corals to town is easy to see.
From these local maps we can drill down directly to the corals themselves.
One main theme in the project overall is to share data with the community. We thought that we’d start by uploading the raw sample photos to Flickr, and organizing them in ways that make them accessible. This also has added benefits for the team, including making photos easier to share within the group. Coral identification (especially at the species level) is notoriously challenging. Sharing photos online enables feedback from the community (feel free to drop us a line in the comments) and from collaborators that specialize in coral systematics. The photos are also linked to sample ids for molecular data, making it easy to look up the surroundings of a particular coral. Finally, Ryan has used hierarchies in Light Room to make it easier to manage tags linked to coral taxonomy and location.
We’re looking forward to using tools like these to make our lives easier as we work to characterize the relationships between corals and their microbes.