Journal of Heredity, July/August 2009
Live plant images website
Cover images from the collection
I started the Bioimages website in 2002 with the goal of making high quality images of living plants and other organisms freely available for non-commercial use. My goal was to photograph the organisms systematically in a standardized way to make the images useful for identification and learning. Within a few years, the site included images of most of the common trees of the interior southeastern U.S. and flowering herbaceous plants of middle Tennessee. I also created an interactive map of North American ecoregions showing typical habitat views and common organisms.
Currently the site has 16241 images representing 3557 individual organisms of 1219 taxa. Of those images, over 12000 are Open Data with a Creative Commons CC BY or CC0 license. I photographed approximately 10000 of the images in the collection. In the website’s first twelve years, it had over 10 million page views (I’ve stopped tracking since then).
Bioimages is also intended to be a demonstration of best practices for biodiversity multimedia. Each image and organism is assigned a persistent, globally unique IRI identifier and has machine-readable RDF metadata avaialble via content negotiation. The images are 100% geolocated and identified taxonomically. The photos are also taken using standardized orientations, making it possible to compare the same part among different species.
By expressing the metadata as about 1.5 million RDF triples, the linked data can be queried using the SPARQL query language.
Images from Bioimages have been used to develop interactive plant identification software, tree tours for portable devices, to document biodiversity in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), on websites across the Internet, on the covers of magazines, and as illustrations in over 25 books and field guides, including over a hundred images in the National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Trees of North America.
A few of the books featuring my images from Bioimages