Computer vision for assessing species color pattern variation from web-based community science images [article]

Maggie M Hantak, Robert P Guralnick, Alina Zare, Brian J Stucky
2022 bioRxiv   pre-print
Openly available community science digital vouchers provide a wealth of data to study phenotypic change across space and time. However, extracting phenotypic data from these resources requires significant human effort. Here, we demonstrate a workflow and computer vision model for automatically categorizing species color pattern from community science images. Our work is focused on documenting the striped/unstriped color polymorphism in the Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus). We
more » ... sed an ensemble convolutional neural network model to analyze this polymorphism in 20,318 iNaturalist images. Our model was highly accurate (~98%) despite image heterogeneity. We used the resulting annotations to document extensive niche overlap between morphs, but wider niche breadth for striped morphs at the range-wide scale. Our work showcases key design principles for using machine learning with heterogeneous community science image data to address questions at an unprecedented scale.
doi:10.1101/2022.02.11.480114 fatcat:w3vjtzrg7rgkrobvicmova3rgm