Rapid Pandemic Response: Enhancement of Digital Data about Horseshoe Bat Specimens

The US National Science Foundation awarded iDigInfo Director Austin Mast a $200,000 grant from the Rapid Response Research funding mechanism to enhance data about the world’s 90,000+ horseshoe bat specimens. Horseshoe bats harbor a variety of coronaviruses—the closest viral relative to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic) discovered to-date was found in a horseshoe bat. The project is, among other things, mapping historical horseshoe bat collection locations and has found that about 28% of the records represent extensions of known species distributions. The project’s data and protocols are shared at Zenodo, and the latter will serve as a template for digital data enhancement during future crisis responses (e.g., in the face of an oil spill). The award is a collaboration with the Head of Biodiversity Informatics and Data Science at Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History. It started July 1, 2020, and supported three Data Curators and staff time at iDigInfo. For more information on the grant, visit https://nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=2033973. To hear more about the research, you can view Austin’s talk to the COVID Information Commons community at https://covidinfocommons.datascience.columbia.edu/content/meet-researchers