Katie Noren in the museum's plant collection room

Mapping Change: Set One Complete!

Thanks to the thousands of citizen scientists who helped make it possible


Imagine a searchable, public atlas showing where animals, plants, and fungi have been found and collected. This map focuses on the meeting place of three of the world’s largest terrestrial ecosystems: eastern broadleaf forests, tallgrass prairies, and coniferous forests. This map also represents moments in history before key changes occurred to the landscape, environment, and climate. What’s most exciting, scientists will use the data in this atlas to identify where ecosystems and species have been and forecast where they may end up in the future!

This atlas is called the Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas, and we called on citizen scientists to join our online Zooniverse project, Mapping Change, to transcribe data from hand-written museum specimen labels to map biodiversity in the Midwestern US, where we sit on the cutting edge of climate change.

Thanks to our dedicated transcribers, we’ve just finished our first dataset on our project!

  • 4,425 volunteers
  • 106,584 classifications
  • 17,713 specimen records

The data they transcribed will be part of the Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas, our permanent digital record of the Bell Museum’s collections, making them of so much more use to anyone interested in accessing them for research, guiding field surveys, providing images for identification in the field, and enabling conservation planning.

Example of a Mapping Change identification

Special thanks for @am.zooni for your dedication and immense help on our Talk message boards. We look forward to a new dataset coming soon to Zooniverse!

(Featured image: Curatorial assistant Katie Noren in the University of Minnesota Herbarium, home to over 900,000 of the museum’s plant specimens)