Designing an Information System for J&K Flora

Peerzada Mohammad Iqbal M. Phil Scholar in Department of Library & Information Science, Msc – IT Student The University of Kashmir, Srinagar, J&K

Abstract: This paper discusses Floral Potential of Jammu & Kashmir (FPOK), a project to digitize the indigenous knowledge of flora of J&K, developed at DLISc in collaboration with DSIR, which provide detailed information about herbs and shrubs. The project portrays botanical, chemical information and indigenous knowledge about the flora of J&K while as each record provides links and active buttons for retrieving images, searching scholarly publications. This paper discusses the whole project, its technical and Plant database. Key Words: Flora, Digital Herbarium, Digital Library of Plants. Introduction: Man’s dependence on plants is inevitable. More than 50 million species of plants and animals including invertebrates and micro-organisms occur on earth and hardly 2 million have been described so far (Kant & Sharma, 2000). India happens to be a mega diversity nation harboring a rich repository of floral wealth. About 167 economic plants have centre of origin / diversity located in India along with 320 species of wild relative and races our state is one of India’s biodiversity hot-spots nurturing a huge floral treasure majority of which has high economic potential. However during the recent decade there has been immense loss of biodiversity. About 70% of identified medicinal plants of India Himalayas are expired to destructive harvesting (Dhar et.al 2000). In Kashmir Himalaya too about 10% of higher flora is under threat (Dar & Naqshi 2001). The need of the hour is to ensure that the existing plants (germplasm) for which their knowledge is essential is to be preserved and well disseminated. The existing bookish knowledge about plants, though highly valuable is highly scattered and not easily accessible to the students, General public, entrepreneurs etc. On

the other hand, the Information Technology has emerged out with a promise to develop digital initiative for flora so as to bridge the gap between knowledge of plants and their conservation. It is an exciting period of transition for the botanical community as they move from the use of mainly print-based research tools to the creation and application of digital solutions for archiving, management and sharing of information. Throughout history, botanists have created and summarized the information derived from collected plants and observations of plant communities to produce an account of the plants growing in a specific geographic area. These accounts, known as 'Floras' are supported by catalogued collections of dried plant specimens held in herbaria. Researchers have used these Floras, including printed taxonomic keys to identify plants included in their botanical research. In more recent times, these tools have increasingly been digitized, firstly for local use then moved onto distributed networks and the Internet. Data associated with herbaria are currently being digitized and uploaded into web-enabled databanks. The benefits of digitizing floral collection and making it available via the internet are many; most obviously, it provides worldwide access to plant images and concomitant data. Problem: Floral databases remain essential, fundamental research tools for conservation planners and other users of botanical information. Indeed, access to basic floral information is critical for managing the biological resources of any region only if the database is digitized first. In J&K massive strides are made to develop databases of J&K flora, still a digital database remains elusive. The collected data previously was accessible only via specimen labels and a local paper catalogue called “herbarium” which is restricted to its parent institute, organizations etc. Digitizing the data and make accessible it via internet with rich searching capabilities will greatly facilitate and enhance studies of floristic data on grant. Filtering name searches via the library system, will assure retrieval of desired results, even if an investigator searches with antiquated nomenclature, or obscure to vernacular names. Another anticipated benefit is that electronic access will reduce unnecessary handling, thus contributing to long term preservation as a virtual herbarium.

Objectives: The primary purpose of this project is to provide an easily accessible, web-based electronic facility on the plant diversity of Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh, through survey. The main objectives of the project are to: I) II) Methodology One of the goals of the project is to “Create a digital database of plants with images ……”. The digital imaging was possible with Sony 6.0 mega pixel camera with large storage capacity able to capture 10,000 high quality images. Microsoft PhotoDraw is used for image manipulation. The photo was captured at close setups. This allows for the creation of high resolution images, showing fine details. For the description of each plant, we present images of the whole plant and its flowering body. The original photographs results in the creation of 10,000 X 10,000 dpi, JPEJ high quality image, which when resized resulted into 3.5’ X 4.5’. the detailed JPEG image are archived along with description of plant, indigenous knowledge and other related external hyper links of online journal, with certain more advanced features added viz., six powerful search engines in a well formatted application i.e., Word/ HTML/ PDF giving a good overall impression of the entire document. Completed documents are filed on a computer for web preservation. Simultaneously Open source Digital library software’s were tested viz. Greenstone digital library software. The software is used to associate the images with their concomitant data from the documents. The custom made metadata schema used includes fewer tags like scientific name, common name, vernacular name, family and full text search. Work flow Digitization of the data is a team effort, the main goal of the team was to “Bring together the indigenous knowledge of flora and capture live images”. To facilitate this, the team visited various place according to season, in early spring, visited various places of Kashmir and Jammu, and in summers visited Ladakh and other adjoining areas. The Create a digital database of plants with images that are of high enough quality to serve for scientific study and identification where possible. Create a digital Library of Plants with enough searching capabilities.

team expected to have a broad database, which contains fields as sufficient to describe the whole properties of a plant. The fields or Meta tags were chosen to meet a scheme, which will enable the future collections to compensate with the current work. The team used custom made Meta tags to describe each species as: S/No 1. Meta tag Botanical Name: Description The Latin or "scientific" name of a plant, usually composed of two words - the genus and the species (Masthoff, 2008). The name applied to a plant in common usage, most probably in English language (Swartz, 1971). The Local or Vernacular name is the native name or language as spoken or written by the inhabitants of that country or locality (Chippindale, 2008). A broad grouping of life forms believed to have a distant common ancestry, and sharing many general 4. Family: traits. Families are further subdivided into genera, and genera into species. The botanical name of a family ends in "-aceae," a suffix which means "family” (Dittmann, 2008). . A list of characters which gives the attributes or 5. Botanical Description: features of a specific plant, it includes attributes like; colour, shape, height, pattern etc (GardenWeb, 2007). The natural arrangements of plants in particular regions of geography (Dienet Online Dictionary, a, 2008). Plants pertaining to a particular place, or to a definite region or portion of space; restricted to one place or region (Dienet Online Dictionary, b, 2008). It is the time period when a plant produces the male 8. 9. Flowering Period: Part Used: and female reproductive structures (Informix, 2008). Portion of the plant which has some potentiality.

2.

Common Name:

3.

Local Name:

6.

Geographical Distribution:

7.

Local Distribution:

10.

Chemical Constituents:

Any

substance

having

a

defined

molecular

composition (BSCS, 2000). Which is present in it and can be characterized by its unique chemical 11. 12. 13. General use: Local use: Sources: identity (Steptoe & Johnson, 2008). The general use indicate, usefulness in pharmacy and other clinical aspects. The local use indicate, usefulness by the local in ethnomedicine and other local herb remedy or use. A Reference to a resource from which the present resource is derived. The present resource may be derived from the Source resource in whole or in part. Recommended best practice is to identify the referenced resource by means of a string or number conforming to a formal identification system 14. Additional References: (Drakos, 2004). An indication of where to find specific information, for example the references cited in scholarly work, or reference assistance from Online Journals 15. Search Engines: Amberton University (2006). Search engines are a coordinated set of programs which searches an index and returns matches to a 16. Additional links: specified keyword (Stuart, 2004). On the Web, a connection that, when selected (or clicked on), will take users to another Web page. A link can be in the form of text (usually appearing as underlined blue text) or images which are coded to act as links. Links are also referred to as "hyperlinks" (Mysouthwest, 2005). These Meta tags describe the plant as a whole. Although the meta tags of Metadata is an issue especially to a Digital Library. There is no consensus about the elements to be included in the database, though many projects use metadata ranging from DUBLIN CORE to MARC21, but no such standard metadata has been used to this project.

Volunteers next manipulated data using Microsoft Word-2003, PDF creator and MS-PhotoDraw for image manipulation. The document were created with associated data and images and kept under high supervision for future preservation and parsing of documents. The last step was to shape the documents in web format. Project staff also performed full cataloguing of the source used in WIN/ISIS software.

Findings: With the changes in storage, Processing and Retrieval of information in the modern information systems the need for digital storage and retrieval of data is felt as a need of the hour. The botanical community in partnership with Library and Information Science specialists can successfully create rich digital harvests. The opportunities offered by the digital mapping of data from dispersed sources, in diverse formats, will support global research community to compare and use information in new ways. By the use of flexible infrastructures it is possible to store full text, images, embedded objects, national and international journal in an electronic format. Thus it is concluded that a digital preservation can create an edge over the traditional labeled herbarium, with special features from Information Technology. The digital herbarium created is set up as a link out provide to the external websites as well. In addition, each record in the herbarium contains a direct link to the appropriate record to other database. The Access main points of the database are: Common name Vernacular name Scientific name Family

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