Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biological Sciences

Document Type



Large scale plant biodiversity bioinformatics projects are now making taxonomic datasets available at a frenetic pace via the World Wide Web (WWW). While these new resources provide the fundamental textual and visual backbone of expert level knowledge, their information structure often impedes the development of derivative works for identification. But when this information is rearranged from a traditional format, questions can be asked of the data that were previously thought to be unanswerable. The difficulty in transforming this ‘big-data’ is manifold: how to deliver it rapidly to researchers across the world while providing visualizations of data that encompass these large data sets. Interactive Visual Identification Keys (VIK) are introduced here to help manage this magnitude of image data, using both analytic and gestalt methods, (Chapter 2) here via the Carex Interactive Visual Identification Key (CIVIK). Through matrix preparation utilizing ontological methods only, and brute force data-mining, Flora of North America is leveraged to develop and provide a novel identification system for the largest vascular plant genus of North America, Carex. The third chapter focuses on pollination syndromes found within the graminoids, or the grasses and sedges of which Carex is a member. The graminoid pollination syndrome is known as anemophily, or wind pollination. During preparation of CIVIK it was noted repeatedly while taking the photos required for its generation, that small solitary bees and flies will often visit graminoids to collect pollen during anthesis. Yet, traditional botanical literature often neglects to mention this fact, or it is described as being inadvertent or mistaken. This chapter presents solid evidence that even common honey bees, Apis mellifera, will exclusively visit a common turf grass to collect pollen. Then, Chapter 4 examines and analyzes these plant biodiversity websites for use. Are they being used? With what technology? Are trends present to be considered for future development? With answers to these questions, curators of museum quality data, in conjunction with web developers may be able to provide a richer user experience in a shorter amount of time.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Urbatsch, Lowell