Seeking Technical Collaborators for Gall Website

For the past year or so, I’ve been working on identifying galls on iNat. Working with many other naturalists, I’ve accumulated a lot of sources, most of which are publicly available but very difficult for amateurs to find and interpret, but some of which are not publicly available at all. I’d love to make a website that brings all this information (ie, collecting every published piece of info on every gallformer described in North America) together in one easily accessible place. I’ve been able to use the iNat Guide tool to do this on a small scale for a couple more manageable groups (hackberry, hickory), but it’s not a scalable or flexible solution (the target ambition will likely include 2-3000 species). We’ve made a huge amount of progress in IDing gall observations but it annoys me to think that the info we’ve accumulated is largely still stuck in our heads when it could easily be made available in a quick search.

The last time I brought this topic up, Ken-ichi suggested I look into the open-source Go Botany platform. I tried that on my own but quickly found I didn’t know know enough to make it far. Anyway, with all the tools that already exist for this sort of thing, I’m optimistic that I wouldn’t need to hire a whole team to build something from the ground up. But I do need some help, so I’m asking here: I’m looking for someone/several people to consult and assist on designing a database and either adapting the Go Botany code (a PostgreSQL database, not sure about the website end) or finding/designing an alternative way to present this database to the public. I’m also open to any other advice about how to approach this project (eg grants to apply for, institutions to partner with, etc).

Thank you!

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Sounds like a great and ambitious project! Keep us posted.

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Have you thought about a wiki-based site? Sites such as https://www.antwiki.org have been very successful at collecting comprehensive information about particular groups of organisms.

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https://fieldguide.ai/ might have a framework that could work, where I suppose you would request “Pro” access to edit fields for relevant species. I haven’t had a chance to look into it much past “oh I must come back here for leps when I have time” so I have no idea what the learning curve would be like from either pro or amateur perspective. But, it looks like Leps are fleshed out enough there to be a good example for judging if it’s worth planting a Galls flag there.

Random example where you can see useful info fields, like for id:
https://leps.fieldguide.ai/figure/5f6b94a53c12ef5cdef4a757/detail?profile=figures

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Hi @Megachile,

I’d love to help you figure out options. I have some programming skill but not much in the way of web development. I would like to work on this as a way to learn some new stuff myself. I think we could assemble a team of iNaturalist users with programming skills and then start a Slack workspace to collaborate. From there I bet we could piece together a project. Many other taxonomic groups need the kind of effort you are putting into galls so whatever gets built here could be a useful template for other work.

I like the GoBotany keys and the species pages. I would be happy to try help you get started on using that as a template for galls.

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Looks like sourcecode is Python3

‘‘The Dichotomous Key Editor is a companion to the regular CMS screens. You can access it from a link in the top right of the ”Dichotomous Key Administration” page.’’
https://github.com/newfs/gobotany-app/blob/master/docs/DKEY.md

How does ‘‘identifying galls on iNat’’ work? Do you start with the host plant?

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Yeah, there’s probably existing frameworks/templates out there, but you could also just make your own website with PHP and Bootstrap.

Yeah, that’s usually the best place to start. I’d like something that lets you input host genus and/or species and the location on the plant (leaf, stem, etc) and maybe a few other host-contingent characters, and have it show you photos with links to sources and further info for all matches. Same as the Guides I’ve made but not limited to one genus at a time. See: https://www.inaturalist.org/guides/12076

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Okay, wonderful! I made a slack workspace; the invite is here for anyone interested.