Project Details


Citizen science project producing training data to transcribe images of handwritten biodiversity records from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh for evolutionary research

Key findings

Plant ageing has until now only been studied in a small number of single species. Preliminarily speaking, a small subset of the data we are harnessing in this project have already illustrated a remarkable variation in plant ageing within a set of closely-related species. With data spanning a large portion of the terrestrial plant kingdom, we are looking forward to the contribution these records, once digitized, can make to the field of plant population biology.

Layman's description

The reason we are so excited about this particular type of handwritten archives, is that it contains species-specific information on individual plant ages. Plants vary greatly in lifespans, and many species outlive us humans. It is thus safe to say that the longer a plant lives, the less we know about its complete life-history. Botanic gardens have kept track of individuals across many human generations. Thus, access to these historic survival records across the majority of life forms in the plant kingdom is vital in our attempt to paint a picture - from the plants' perspective - of time, space, provenance, and the ability to adapt on a changing planet.
Effective start/end date11/12/202031/12/2021

Collaborative partners

  • Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20A Inverleith Row, Edinburgh EH3 5LR, United Kingdom. (lead)


  • biodiversity, AI, computer vision, natural language learning, handwritten archives


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