Biodiversity research at a professional level
The effects of global warming on biodiversity are structural and calls for research to understand the nature and severity of those effects better. Since 1950, the average annual temperature in the Netherlands has increased by 1.5 degrees Celsius. Locally, urbanization can lead to an even greater temperature hike, as well as increased drought. The SnailSnap project attempts to answer the question as to how grove snails (Cepaea nemoralis) adapt to climate change and the effects of urbanization.
91 possible classifications
Participants in the project provide photos and location data of observations of grove snails, either through the SnailSnap app or through the website Waarneming.nl or one of its affiliated apps. Submitted photos are checked manually by validators, who first determine wether an observation indeed concerns a grove snail. If so, the observation is then labeled with a color classification. Classification first requires determining the actual color, which can be yellow, pink or brown. Next, the number of dark bands on the shell is assessed, as well as their position. Finally, validators determine whether or not the bands merge. All these findings combine into one of 91 possible color classifications.
In this project, we aim to support the SnailSnap team by transferring part of the burden of classification to artificial intelligence. Using the database of previously submitted and classified SnailSnap photos, we aim to train a deep-learning model that can confidently recognize the different color classes, and implement it in the validation workflow, with the aim of automatically labeling new SnailSnap photos. One of the focuses will be the possibilities of more accurately distinguishing between classes that have a high similarity. The project will also include research into differentiating between Cepaea nemoralis and other snail species, thus further reducing the validators’ workload.
SnailSnap is an initiative of Naturalis, Waarneming.nl and EIS Kenniscentrum Insecten. The SnailSnap app was developed by Zostera. In the coming years, SnailSnap will become part of EvoScope, a broad citizen science project investigating evolution in cities. The city of Leiden and the education department of Naturalis are two of the parties involved in EvoScope, among other parties.
- De stadsslak woont met deze hitte het liefst in een geel huis, Trouw, 28 July 2018 (in Dutch)
- Tuinslakkenonderzoek in de stad, Vroege Vogels, 28 April 2017 (in Dutch)