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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Bringing Together Species Observations: A Case Story of Sweden's Biodiversity Informatics Infrastructures

D. Peterson, Jesse; Kasperowski, Dick; van der Wal, Rene


Biodiversity informatics produces global biodiversity knowledge through the collection and analysis of biodiversity data using informatics techniques. To do so, biodiversity informatics relies upon data accrual, standardization, transferability, openness, and "invisible" infrastructure. What biodiversity informatics mean to society, however, cannot be adequately understood without recognizing what organizes biodiversity data. Using insights from science and technology studies, we story the organizing "visions" behind the growth of biodiversity informatics infrastructures in Sweden-an early adopter of digital technologies and significant contributor to global biodiversity data-through interviews, scientific literature, governmental reports and popular publications. This case story discloses the organizational formation of Swedish biodiversity informatics infrastructures from the 1970s to the present day, illustrating how situated perspectives or "visions" shaped the philosophies, directions and infrastructures of its biodiversity informatics communities. Specifically, visions related to scientific progress and species loss, their institutionalization, and the need to negotiate external interests from governmental organizations led to unequal development across multiple infrastructures that contribute differently to biodiversity knowledge. We argue that such difference highlights that the social and organizational hurdles for combining biodiversity data are just as significant as the technological challenges and that the seemingly inconsequential organizational aspects of its infrastructure shape what biodiversity data can be brought together, modelled and visualised.


Biodiversity informatics; Boundary object; Digital technologies; Environmental citizen science; Infrastructure organisations; Nature conservation; Species data; Taxonomies; GBIF

Published in

Minerva - A Review of Science, Learning and Policy
2023, Volume: 61, number: 2, pages: 265-289
Publisher: SPRINGER

      SLU Authors

    • Peterson, Jesse

      • Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Linköping University
      • University College Cork
    • UKÄ Subject classification

      Bioinformatics (Computational Biology)

      Publication Identifiers


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