Image: Courtesy of International Barcode of Life project/iTunes

Global biodiversity is critical to the long-term health of the planet but species are disappearing at an alarming rate. With anywhere between 10-100 million species on the planet, it’s difficult to really catalog where and when life may be evolving or going extinct.
The International Barcode of Life project hopes to build a database containing DNA barcodes for every species on the planet by empowering citizen scientists worldwide to participate in the crowdsourcing of genetic materials. The organization has an iPhone and iPad app, available on iTunes, that, when used in conjunction with the Lifescanner Kit, lets anyone participate in crowdsourcing the collection and analysis of tissue samples or entire organisms from anywhere in the world. The published DNA barcode data is then made available to researchers and students for analysis and to be accessed through big data and data visualization tools from SAP to better understand life on Earth.
Use the LifeScanner DNA species identification sampling kit to submit any animal samples you come across. The kit contains everything you need to submit 4 samples for identification and contribution to the scientific database.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sujeevan Ratnasingham, Director of Informatics
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, University of Guelph
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Fieldwork
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages

    Order the LifeScanner DNA species identification kit to identify organisms around you (what you're eating, what's in your garden, or in your home) using DNA Barcoding technology. Each kit comes with 4 specimen vials, each containing a non-toxic DNA preservation fluid, a pair of tweezers, instructions, and return shipment bag specifically designed for bio-materials. Also included but not pictured is a padded mailing envelope for the return of the vials to LifeScanner. Free trial kits available in Canada and the U.S. only (Shipping charges not included).

See more projects in FreeFieldworkAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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