Broader Impacts and LepNet Sustainability
LepNet will become one of the largest entomology work force training programs. We expect a significant number of the 600+ students hired to continue their professional development in the areas of taxonomy, curation, informatics, and ecology. Our LepXPLOR program will provide extensive outreach to serve a wide diverse audience in teaching about the diversity of Lepidoptera and their important role as major herbivores. The collaboration with computer vision engineers will expand beyond LepNet, to include image-identification functionality of phyla covered in the 22 other Symbiota portals, as well as other arthropod taxa (e.g., Odonata, Orthoptera). We also expect to extend LepSnap to citizen science field activities with photo-blitzing during butterfly counts and night-lighting events. LepNet data will be extensively used by ButterflyNet; we will provide an average of 524 new occurrence records for each of the 800 North American butterfly species; making them comparable in data-richness to plants and vertebrates. Finally, we have established a research-social network that can continue digitization for North America Lepidoptera, bring together plant and insect ecologists to focus on plant-insect interactions, and connect with globally with other digitization efforts, even those beyond Lepidoptera.
We are committed to implementing institutional-level sustainability plans beyond ADBC funding. LepNet sustainability will depend largely on SCAN and iDigBio. SCAN started as 10 collections focused on ground-dwelling arthropods in the Southwest. Four years later, SCAN has extended to all arthropods, collaborated on three funded PEN projects and houses primary data for 44 entomology collections. SCAN has currently met 130% of the ADBC goal with nine months remaining. SCAN serves more than 5.1 million specimen records, including all LepNet collections. There are standing institutional commitments by Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University to SCAN, Symbiota, and the ongoing commitment from iDigBio to serve our data. The extension of the Southwest Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN) TCN into the more comprehensive Symbiota Collections of Arthropods Network continues to attract more non-ADBC funded data providers as we put in place concepts, infrastructure, and practices that can readily be expanded to include other taxa. In particular, our adherence to Symbiota as the Darwin Core compliant collection networking software, and use of open source software will allow easy entry points for new data and information providers.