Citizen scientists are being asked to play a role in developing cutting edge imaging technologies that will help us understand the effects of major threats to biodiversity.
Through the EmbryoPhenomics project, researchers at the University of Plymouth are applying bioimaging, robotics and computer vision to produce automated measurements of the size, shape, movement and function – including heart rate – of aquatic organisms.
These technologies provide a detailed, microscopic view of how the embryos of aquatic animals – such as snails and shrimps – develop and react to the changing environment around them.
To enhance this existing research capability, the team of marine biologists are now applying artificial intelligence (AI) to train software for detecting the most minute details of an embryo’s development.
Training a computer using AI requires significant volumes of data and so the team are now calling on the public to get involved, by helping to analyse a vast bank of images and video.
The team have developed a new project on Zooniverse, a global citizen science platform, and volunteers can simply create a free account on the site to get involved.
They will then progress through a series of tutorials, guiding them on what to measure and how, before beginning work on their valuable contribution to this project.
All the results from Zooniverse will then be used by the project team in the application of AI to training the next generation of technologies for understanding the impact of environmental change on sensitive early life stages.
The project is led by Dr Oliver Tills, Senior Research Fellow in the School of Biological and Marine Sciences, and Research Assistant Ellen Tully, who is working on a Faculty of Science and Engineering Proof of Concept Commercialisation project.
Dr Tills, who recently received a UK Research and Innovation’s Future Leaders Fellowship to support his work, said: