Support Group

The Symbiota Support Group is a monthly meeting for Symbiota users to connect and learn how to use their portals.

The Support Group meets on the first Monday of the month at 12-1p Pacific / 3-4p Eastern. During these meetings, the Hub often demonstrates a predetermined topic, then the session is open for questions, troubleshooting, and discussion. Refer to the schedule below for the most up-to-date information about this recurring event.

Meeting Schedule

JUNE 3, 2024
Data Cleaning & Data Quality in Symbiota Portals. As an extension of a workshop happening at iDigBio’s annual Digital Data in Biodiversity Research Conference, this month the Symbiota Support Hub will demonstrate queries and tools that can be used to improve the quality of data shared within Symbiota portals and beyond. As part of this session, Symbiota community members are invited to share any data cleaning tips and tricks that may benefit other collections in their portal. [Recording]
MAY 6, 2024
Open Community Discussion Time. This month we won’t have a dedicated tool to demonstrate; instead, we invite you to join us at this time for office hours and any questions you might have about how to work in your portal. Please bring your questions and ideas! This is a great time to connect with other curators and Symbiota users.
APRIL 1, 2024
Leaving, Receiving, and Reviewing Feedback on Records in Symbiota Portals.
One of the benefits of publicly sharing your biodiversity data is that members of the public, including taxonomic and regional experts, can view your data and leave feedback if they see errors or potential areas of improvement. In this session, we will describe the ways that users can leave feedback on specimen records through the Symbiota portal or via GBIF, how collections managers and view and vet that feedback, and other ways to gather feedback about your records to improve data quality and accuracy. [Recording]
MARCH 4, 2024
Expanding Support of the Extended Specimen in Symbiota Portals.
 As discussed in previous meetings of the Symbiota Support Group, Symbiota supports the “Extended Specimen” concept through a variety of tools and features that enable diverse data linkages within and beyond Symbiota portals. In this meeting, we will present a brief overview of the existing ways Symbiota currently supports the Extended Specimen, foreshadow new features in active development and that relate to this concept (with an explanation of how these features came to be), and guide follow-up discussion to gather community feedback on potential new directions for the Extended Specimen in Symbiota portals. [Recording]
FEB. 5, 2024
Storing, Linking, and Editing Images Associated with Symbiota Portals.
Linking images to specimen (and observation) records in Symbiota portals continues to be of utmost importance to Symbiota users. Here we will provide an overview of how images link to occurrence records in Symbiota portals, present updates to current (known) image-hosting options, and demonstrate how to edit and assess existing images in your portal(s). [Recording]
JAN. 15, 2024
2023: Year-In-Review 
& 2024: Looking Ahead. It’s been another fantastic year with the iDigBio Symbiota Support Hub! In this meeting, we will celebrate the accomplishments of the Symbiota user and developer community, review the help topics covered in 2023, and recall how to find Symbiota resources. We will also open discussion for future Support Group ideas. Please bring your questions and ideas! [Recording]
DEC. 4, 2023
Image Tagging in Symbiota Portals. This month Colleen Smith (UC Santa Barbara & Big-Bee TCN) will discuss ways to make images of specimens easier for people to find and cite in Symbiota. Methods for tagging different types of specimen images in Symbiota will be presented, as well as methods for packaging and linking sets of images to a specimen record using GitHub and Zenodo. [Recording]
NOV. 6, 2023
Determinations (Taxonomic Annotations) in Symbiota Portals. Join a demonstration of the individual and batch determination creation and printing tools in Symbiota portals, as well as a discussion of current functionality and limitations of these tools. [Recording]
OCT. 2, 2023
Using Loan Management tools in Symbiota Portals. This month we will demonstrate how incoming loans, outgoing loans, gifts, and exchanges can be managed from within your portal. [Recording]
SEPT. 11, 2023
Linking to genetic data in Symbiota portals. In support of the Extended Specimen, Symbiota maintains the ability to link specimen occurrences to genetic sequence data. In this meeting, we used a prototype workflow developed by Jorrit Poelen for the Hoover Herbarium (OBI) to review how genetic data can be associated with specimen records in Symbiota. [Recording]
AUG. 7, 2023
Open Office Hours. This month we invite you to join us for open office hours to ask questions about how to use your portal.
JULY 3, 2023
No meeting. US holiday / summer recess.
JUNE 5, 2023 – IN PERSON (Tempe, AZ, 1:00-2:15p Arizona time)
Symbiota Skillshare and Skills Workshop.
Join the Symbiota Support Hub in person at iDigBio’s annual Digital Data in Biodiversity Research Conference for a workshop and skillshare. Bring your questions, messy datasets, and other issues for collaborative workshopping and skill-building. Example datasets and work problems will be provided for users without existing datasets. Register for the Digital Data Conference here. There will not be a virtual component to this event.
MAY 1, 2023
Creating and Managing Checklists.
Symbiota portals include tools for creating lists of taxa, for example regional floras/faunas or lists of taxa with certain shared features (e.g., “native plants”). In this session, we will demonstrate how checklists work, how to create new checklists from existing lists or from specimen records, and how to edit existing checklists. [Recording]
APRIL 3, 2023
Symbiota Tools in Support of the Extended Specimen. Biodiversity specimens represent complex networks of interconnected data, often including related specimens, samples, or measurements. Together, these related data are often termed the “Extended Specimen.” Symbiota supports management of extended specimens with tools for managing linkages between specimens, measurements of traits, and references to genetic sequences, material samples, datasets, and checklists. In this meeting, we will demonstrate the use of these tools for supporting and sharing extended specimen data. [Recording]
MARCH 6, 2023
Frequently Asked Questions. Symbiota is full of surprises! In this session, we will review questions that the Hub frequently receives from portal users, such as: how to add names to the portal’s taxonomic thesaurus, how to add images to your records, how to download subsets of your data, and more. Participants are encouraged to chime in with their own tips and tricks, and we welcome live questions during the session. [Recording]
FEB. 6, 2023
Snapshot Updating: How Symbiota portals connect to each other, Arctos, Specify, EMu, and more. Symbiota portals host both live-managed data and copies of data from other sources (i.e., other collection management systems). In this webinar, we will focus on how these copies come to be, how they can be updated, and common issues these “snapshot” collections encounter when updating their data. This meeting will be relevant for both live-managing and snapshot collections, since live-managed collections will often send a snapshot of their data to another Symbiota portal (e.g., send their pteridophyte data to the PteridoPortal, but manage all their data in a SEINet portal). [Recording]
JAN. 9, 2023
2022: Year-In-Review & 2023: Looking Ahead. In this meeting, we will review the help topics covered in 2022, how to find Symbiota resources, highlight accomplishments from collections across the country, and discuss ideas for future Support Group topics. Please bring your questions and ideas! [Recording]
DEC. 5, 2022
Personal Observation Management profiles in Symbiota portals. If sponsored by a collection administrator, individual users can manage specimen or observational data in Symbiota portals through collections called Personal Observation Management profiles. Only the user can edit or add to their own specimens in this profile, but the specimens and observations in this profile are publicly available for searching and viewing. Here we described how Personal Observation Management profiles work and how they can be used by collectors to pre-curate specimens before distributing them to be accessioned in natural history collections. [Recording]
NOV. 7, 2022
Identification Keys and Character Matrices in Symbiota Portals. This month we will discuss what identification keys and character matrices are, how they can be set up in your portal, and how to edit them. [Recording]
OCT. 3, 2022
Open Community Discussion Time. This month we won’t have a dedicated tool to demonstrate; instead, we invite you to join us at this time for office hours and any questions you might have about how to work in your portal. Please bring your questions and ideas! This is a great time to connect with other curators and Symbiota users.
SEPT. 12, 2022
New Citation Generation and Tracking Tools. We will demonstrate new tools that have been developed to auto-generate citations on the collection page, data use policy, and within the Darwin Core Archives downloaded by a user. Citation formats must be designated by a portal manager and can then be applied to all collections. We will also demo the new GBIF citations widget that shows how many citations your data have received through GBIF. [Recording]
AUG. 1, 2022
Taxonomic Thesauri in Symbiota Portals. Here we will discuss how taxonomic thesauri function in Symbiota portals and how they relate to specimen and observation data. We will also describe how to edit or request edits to the taxonomic thesaurus, and we will provide an overview of the function of the taxonomic cleaning tools. [Recording]
JULY 4, 2022
No meeting. US holiday.
JUNE 6, 2022
Creating Specimen Labels in a Symbiota Portal. In this session, we discussed how to design and export specimen labels directly from your portal, including how to save custom label templates for repeated use. [Recording]
MAY 2, 2022
Crowdsourcing in a Symbiota Portal. Crowdsourcing is a way to allow logged-in users to transcribe records from images or conduct other digitization tasks without giving those users full editing privileges for your entire collection. In this session, we demonstrated how to prepare records for crowdsourcing and how to view and vet crowdsourced data. We also touched briefly on the use of Notes from Nature. [Recording]
APRIL 4, 2022
Publishing Data from a Symbiota Portal. We will demonstrate how data can be shared with other resources and pushed to aggregators such as iDigBio and GBIF. [Recording]
MARCH 7, 2022
Data Cleaning Tools in Symbiota Portals. We will demonstrate the geography cleaning, taxonomy cleaning, batch editing, and other tools that can be used to clean data in a Symbiota portal. [Recording]
FEB. 7, 2022
Getting Images into a Symbiota Portal.
There are many ways to associate images of occurrences with their records in Symbiota portals. In this meeting, we discussed these options and important considerations to make when selecting an optimal workflow for a collection. [Recording]
JAN. 3, 2022
Uploading Data to a Symbiota Portal.
In this meeting, we demonstrated how to upload spreadsheets (CSV files) and Darwin Core Archives of occurrence data into a collection in a Symbiota portal. Note that only users with administrator access (i.e., collections managers or curators) can import data in this way. [Recording]
DEC. 6, 2021
GitHub & Other Symbiota Resources.
Our first meeting covered GitHub (how to use it) and the Symbiota Resources found there. We demonstrated how to use the discussion page to report issues, engage with other users, etc. [Recording]

Would you like to receive monthly reminders for this meeting? Sign up here.