The Jungle Rhythms project aims to transcribe hand-drawn observations of the life cycle events of more than 2,000 trees (of more than 500 different species) between 1937 and 1958 in the tropical rainforest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Recurring life cycle events (or phenology) of plants, such as yearly flowering, seed dispersal, and leaf shedding are key to understand plant functioning.
Long-term observations of tropical trees are rare. The Jungle Rhythms observations comprise three decades of data on the central African tropical forest, and are therefore an extraordinary source of information on the life cycles of tropical trees. All of these weekly observations were jotted down in little notebooks and finally summarized in large hand-drawn tables. Jungle Rhythms will transcribe the summary tables in an effort to recover the key parts of this knowledge, which currently only exists on paper, and preserve the original copy.
The nature of the notation used, mainly using fine hand-drawn pencil lines overlaying another fine gray line, make it really hard to process these images automatically. The human eye and brain is finely tuned to finding patterns and picking up these slight nuances in shading. At the end of the project annotations will be combined into a timeline of each trees' life cycle events and matched with weather data.