Public Lab Research note

Jungle Rhythms - find the rhythm of tropical trees

by khufkens | January 03, 2016 17:37 03 Jan 17:37 | #12556 | #12556

What I want to do / Have done

A few weeks ago I launch Jungle Rhythms , an online citizen-science project that aims to digitize thousands of pages of detailed observations of the life cycle of trees in Africa.

Belgian scientists were stationed at the Yangambi Research Station in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1938 until 1958 as part of an agriculture-based research project. During that time, the scientists – for reasons unknown– also began collecting detailed observations on the life cycle of trees in the local forest. Those observations were kept in a series of notebooks, and later summarized in large tables, which were discovered, nearly 80 years later, stored in an archive under less-than-ideal conditions.

To avoid losing the data as the pages crumbled, I digitized the tables in the hopes of using computers to automatically capture the data, but quickly realized the marks were simply too faint.

While the project’s ultimate goal is to preserve the data for future study, it also gives the public an up-close-and-personal view on how scientific research is conducted. To do so, I’ll be blogging about the project to keep users up to date on new exciting results, and any discoveries I make about the history of the data itself.

My attempt and results

The Jungle Rhythms website can be found at:

This landing page also provides some extra information on the why and how of the project.

I blog regularly (~ bi-weekly) on various topics related to the dataset, explaining some details or the history of the data as it unfolds (lots has to be discovered still).

and you can find me on twitter as well:

Questions and next steps

I need your help to look at a few of the imagesm as all contributions count. So, if it's rainy out and you find yourself with idle time between mostly hardware oriented PublicLab project, consider contributing to citizen science in a different way!

Also check out the other citizen science projects on the Zooniverse, there is something for everyone.

Why I'm interested

The reasons for making this effort are two-fold. 1. the data is technically 'lost' if not put in a more accessible format (this is a data recovery exercise) 2. the data itself is valuable as it can give me insights in how trees respond to changing climatic conditions, so looking back in time might give us insights into how tropical forests might behave in the future!


it looks like your links aren't heading straight to

neat project! I tried out a single set. looks doable!

Reply to this comment...

thanks @matthew, seems like you have to include http otherwise the markup thinks it's an internal references.

Reply to this comment...

Thanks for the contributions as well!!

Reply to this comment...

Login to comment.