Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Discovery
The Center for Integrative Biodiversity Discovery (CIBD) is an interdisciplinary research organization aiming to accelerate the discovery and exploration of global biodiversity. By employing modern technologies and classical methods, CIBD helps with creating a comprehensive inventory of known and unknown animal species. The center focuses on taxonomy, evolutionary biology, and ecology that are used to classify, characterize, and investigate the role of organisms in their natural environment. Through global collaboration and the development of high-throughput workflows, the CIBD hopes to accelerate taxonomy, facilitate biodiversity monitoring, and allow for a holistic study of adaptations and environmental change.
Species Discovery Factory
One of the primary functions of the CIBD is as a species discovery factory. Planetary health is a global concern due to the loss of biodiversity and habitats caused by overexploitation, climate change, and environmental vandalism. Swift solutions are needed for traditionally time-consuming tasks, such as sorting bulk arthropod samples to known species, describing new species, and analyzing their distribution and ecology. The CIBD focuses on developing automated tools to address these challenges. Species sorting starts with a robot (“DiversityScanner”) that isolates, photographs, and measures individual insects from bulk samples and prepares them for sequencing. Using DNA barcoding with Oxford Nanopore sequencing technology, specimens and images are then assigned to putative species. Finally, the putative species are confirmed with morphology and either identified or described. Once there are enough images per species, we train AI algorithms for future identification based on images alone.
Systematics, biogeography, and evolution
Researchers in the CIBD also carry out cutting edge research in the fields of systematics, biogeography, and evolution. The research aims to determine evolutionary relationships among species, study the interaction of populations and species with each other and the environment, and reveal the underlying evolutionary processes that has shaped these patterns in biodiversity through time. By combining modern genomic tools and analytical methods, we are able to conduct larger-scale projects to get a holistic perspective of these patterns. This work also often incorporates historical DNA that has been carefully extracted from specimens stored in Natural History Museums. By combining both historical and modern samples, we are able to include species that are otherwise only known in collections and characterize temporal change in genetic patterns. The ultimate goal of this research is to better our understanding of the intricate relationships between species and the environment, and to find more effective ways to preserve the planet´s biodiversity for future generations.