Tag Archives: Université de Montpellier

Be a citizen scientist: join the ‘Wild river battle’

I got this invitation from a professor at the University of Montpellier (Université de Montpellier, France) in a February 1, 2024 email (the project ‘Wild river battle’ is being run by scientists at ETH Zurich [Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich]) ,

Dear all,

I hope this message finds you well. I am reaching out to share an exciting opportunity for all of us to contribute to the safeguarding of wild rivers worldwide.

We are launching a Citizen Science project in collaboration with Citizen Science Zurich, utilizing AI and satellite imagery to assess and protect the natural state of rivers on a global scale. Whether you have a passion for river conservation or simply wish to contribute to a meaningful cause, we invite you to join us in this impactful game.

To access the game, please follow this link https://lab.citizenscience.ch/en/project/769

It only takes 3-5 minutes, and the rules are simple: click on the riverscape that you find the wildest (you can also use the buttons under the images).

Thank you very much for your time in advance, and I look forward to witnessing our collective efforts make a positive impact for the conservation of our precious rivers. And we are open to receive any feedback by mail (shzong@ethz.ch) and willing to provide more information for those who are interested (https://ele.ethz.ch/research/technology-modelling/citizen-river.html).

Best regards and have fun!

Nicolas Mouquet

Scientific director of the Centre for the Synthesis
and Analysis of Biodiversity (CESAB)
5 Rue de l’École de Médecine
34000, Montpellier

I went looking for more information as per Mouquet`s email (https://ele.ethz.ch/research/technology-modelling/citizen-river.html) and found this,

Finding wild rivers with AI

A citizen science project combining AI and satellite images to evaluate rivers’ wildness.

Wild rivers are an invaluable resource that play a vital role in maintaining healthy ecosystems and supporting biodiversity. Rivers of high ecological integrity provide habitat for a wide variety of plant and animal species, and their free-​flowing waters provide a large number of services such as freshwater, supporting the needs of local communities. Protecting wild rivers is essential to ensure long-​term global health, and it is our responsibility to develop management schemes to preserve these precious habitats for future generations.  

Wild stretches, supporting the highest levels of biodiversity, are disappearing globally at an extremely fast rate. Deforestation, mining, pollution, booming hydropower dams and other human infrastructures are built or planned on large rivers. The increasing pressure of human activities has been causing a rapid decline of biodiversity and ecological function. We should act now to protect the rivers and be guided by the current state of rivers to identify unprotected areas that are worth being included in conservation plans. However, there is still no map of global wild river segments which could support such global conservation planning, nor a tool to monitor the wilderness of rivers over time under global changes.

How we find wild rivers, evaluate their wildness, and why we need your help

We will evaluate the level of wildness of river sections from satellite images. Remote sensing is the most efficient method for monitoring the landscape on a global and dynamic scale. Satellite images contain valuable information about the river’s course, width, depth, shape and surrounding landscape, which allow us to assess how wild they are visually.

You and other citizen scientists can help us score the wildest river sections from satellite images. Using the ranking from citizen scientists, we will run a ranking algorithm to give each image a wildness score depending on the many pairwise comparisons. These images with a wilderness score will act as a training dataset for a machine learning algorithm which will be trained to automatically score any large river segment, globally. With an accurate river wildness model, we will be able to quickly assess the wildness of the global river sections. Using such a tool, we can for instance find the river sections that are still worth protecting. This pristine river map will provide invaluable insights for conservation initiatives and enable targeted actions to safeguard and restore the remaining pristine rivers and monitor the trajectories of rivers around the world.

How to do it?

Rivers will first be segmented into river sections with the surrounding environment as a whole landscape bounding box. The river sections will be identified by citizen scientists and your interpretation to form a reference dataset. The game (you can click the corresponding language to access it with different language versions. English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese) is easy (thanks to Citizen Science Zurich); you just have to click on the riverscape you find more wild, or click the button under the rivers. For mobile users, please use the buttons.

Before you get started there will be this,

Your participation in the study is voluntary.

Statement of consent

By participating in the study, I confirm that I:

* have heard/read and understood the study information.
* had enough time to decide on my participation in the study.
* voluntarily participate in the study and agree to my personal data being used as described below.

Participants’ information will be handled with the utmost confidentiality. All data collected, including but not limited to demographic details, responses to survey questions, and any other pertinent information, will be securely stored and accessible only to authorized personnel involved in the research. Your personal identity will be kept strictly confidential, and any published results will be presented in aggregate form, ensuring that individual participants cannot be identified. Furthermore, your data will not be shared with any third parties and will only be used for the specific research purposes outlined in the introduction page prior to participating in the study.

I fund this description of the researchers and contributors (from https://lab.citizenscience.ch/en/project/769 or ‘Wild river battle’)

Who is behind

We are ecologists at ETH Zurich that are foucusing on biodiversity monitoring in the large river corridors. Learn more about us from our homepage. Chair of Ecosystems and Landscape Evolution

Who contributes

All the people that have interest in protecting wild rivers can participate this project, and of course non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and river management bureau like CNR (Compagnie Nationale du Rhône) also showed great interests in this project.

Should you be inspired to do more, Citizen Science Zurich lists a number of projects (ranging from the Hair SALON project to FELIDAE: Finding Elusive Links by Tracking Diet of Cats in Environment to more) on this page. It’s a mixed listing of those that are completed or looking for participants and/or looking for financial resources.

There is also a Citizen Science Portal (a Canadian federal government project) that was last updated January 15, 2024. Some of the projects are national in scope while others are provincial in scope.

Coral reefs, beauty, citizen science, and surveys

I received this May 23, 2023 email invitation to participate in a citizen science project,

Dear all,

We need your valuable input to advance our research on the aesthetic value of tropical coral reefs! As a part of the Marine Science Department of the IPB University [Indonesia], the Lancaster Environment Centre [at Lancaster University, UK], the MARBEC laboratory [Marine Biodiversity Exploitation and Conservation (MARBEC)] research unit is one of the Unité mixte de recherche (UMR) partially funded by the CNRS], and the National Research and Innovation Agency of Indonesia [Badan Riset dan Inovasi Nasional, BRIN], we are conducting a survey to analyze human perspectives on the beauty of coral reefs.

By participating in this survey, you will play a vital role in the development of predictive computer models that can estimate the aesthetic value of different coral reefs. Your contribution will directly contribute to our ongoing research efforts. Estimated completion time is approximately 5 minutes.

Your participation is greatly appreciated, and together, we can make a significant impact on coral reef preservation and conservation. Please click the link below to start the survey:


Thank you also for sharing this survey within your network (professional and personal). Actually we are really counting on you to trigger a snow ball effect and get out of our community (academia and divers). You can also retweet & like on twitter here : https://twitter.com/NicolasMouquet/status/1658020475107266563?s=20 or tweet yourself (if you do, please tag @NicolasMouquet so we will like your tweet and get it up in the threads; also add an image on your own (or copy the one used in the above mentioned tweet) as pasting only the link to the survey shows up a generic image which is not related to the Beauty of Coral Reefs survey). Hear a simple text that could be used on other social media « Help shape future coral reef restoration! Take our 5-minute survey and pick the most beautiful coral reef images. Your input will fuels research on these natural wonders! https://www.biodiful.org/#/beautifulcorals»

Thank you for your time and support. Let’s work together to celebrate the beauty of coral reefs!


Nicolas Mouquet, CNRS [Centre national de la recherche scientifique], MARBEC, University of Montpellier. 

In late April 2023, I received a link to a paper by Mouquet as a thank you for participating in another of his projects. (I looked at two side-by-side pictures of fishes and selected the one I found most attractive.) As you can see from the image below, I was one of 13,000 respondents.

Fig 1. Evaluation and prediction of fish aesthetic values. (1) Pairs of images were presented to the public during the online survey and scored using the Elo algorithm (see Methods). Left Parma bicolor and right Abudefduf luridus. (2) Once the 345 new images were evaluated online, the values of the 157 images previously evaluated [16] were corrected using the 21 images shared between the 2 surveys. (3) The resulting 481 images with evaluated aesthetic values were used to train a ResNet50 algorithm (see Text E and Fig L in S1 File). Illustration inspired from the PlotNeuralNet [31]. (b) Left: The r2 of the linear relationship between the predicted values averaged across the 5 validation sets and the evaluated values is 0.79 ± SD 0.04 (the color of points indicates the 5 sets used to perform the cross validation). This algorithm was used to predict the aesthetic values of the 4,400 unevaluated images of our dataset. Right: Distribution of the 481 evaluated values in light blue and of the 4,400 predicted aesthetic values in dark blue. The dots at the bottom of the plot indicate the predicted aesthetic values of the images shown in panel (c). Data and code required to generate this Figure can be found in https://github.com/nmouquet/RLS_AESTHE. (c) Examples of fishes representative of the range of predicted aesthetic values. Decreasing aesthetic value from left to right and top to bottom: Holacanthus ciliaris, Aracana aurita, Amphiprion ephippium, Ctenochaetus marginatus, Scarus spinus, Amphiprion bicinctus, Epinephelides armatus, Fusigobius signipinnis, Diplodus annularis, Odontoscion dentex, Nemadactylus bergi, Mendosoma lineatum. See S1 Data for image copyright. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001640.g001 [Downloaded from https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3001640#pbio.3001640.s002]

Given how many people participated, I’m thrilled he got in touch,

Hello to all,

Finally some news about the internet campaign to measure the aesthetic value of reef fishes in which you participated in 2020. The time of research can sometimes be long and we were like you a little disturbed by the Covid episode, but here is where we are :We have published our results in an international scientific journal (Plos Biology) 😀 : Langlois J, Guilhaumon F, Baletaud F, Casajus N, De Almeida Braga C, Fleure V, Kulbicki K, Loiseau N, Mouillot D, Renoult JP, Stahl A, Stuart Smith RD, Tribot AS & N, Mouquet (2022) The aesthetic value of reef fishes is globally mismatched to their conservation priorities. PLoS Biol 20(6): e3001640. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3001640

You can download the article here: http://nicolasmouquet.free.fr/pdf/Langlois_et_al_2022_Plos_Biology.htm

Here is a summary: Reef fishes are closely connected to many human populations, yet their contributions to society are mostly considered through their economic and ecological values. Cultural and intrinsic values of reef fishes to the public can be critical drivers of conservation investment and success, but remain challenging to quantify. Aesthetic value represents one of the most immediate and direct means by which human societies engage with biodiversity, and can be evaluated from species to ecosystems. Here, we provide the aesthetic value of 2,417 ray-finned reef fish species by combining intensive evaluation of photographs of fishes by humans with predicted values from machine learning. We identified important biases in species’ aesthetic value relating to evolutionary history, ecological traits, and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) threat status. The most beautiful fishes are tightly packed into small parts of both the phylogenetic tree and the ecological trait space. In contrast, the less attractive fishes are the most ecologically and evolutionary distinct species and those recognized as threatened. Our study highlights likely important mismatches between potential public support for conservation and the species most in need of this support. It also provides a pathway for scaling-up our understanding of what are both an important nonmaterial facet of biodiversity and a key component of nature’s contribution to people, which could help better anticipate consequences of species loss and assist in developing appropriate communication strategies.

This work has received a significant echo in the scientific community as well as in the international press and we are now busy using these data to assess the aesthetic value of entire fish communities on reefs globally.

Again, a huge thank you for your help, without you we could not have done this work! And I apologize for being so late in getting back to you. 🙏

Our work on assessing the aesthetic value of biodiversity does not stop of course! And we may be calling on you soon for new adventures!

In the meantime you can also have a look at a twitter account we just opened dedicated to the presentation of beautiful or repulsive species, but always amazing and especially essential for the functioning of ecosystems ! https://twitter.com/Biodi_ful

With kind regards,

Nicolas Mouquet


Nicolas Mouquet, CNRS

Scientific director of the Centre for the Synthesis and Analysis of Biodiversity (CESAB)
5 Rue de l’École de Médecine
34000, Montpellier

Chercheur à MARBEC
Université de Montpellier
Place Eugène Bataillon, CC093
34095 Montpellier Cedex 05

You can sign up to get updates regarding the research once you’ve finished the survey.

In the meantime, here’s a link to and a citation (in my usual style) for the paper on the aesthetics of reef fishes,

The aesthetic value of reef fishes is globally mismatched to their conservation priorities by Juliette Langlois, François Guilhaumon, Florian Baletaud, Nicolas Casajus, Cédric De Almeida Braga, Valentine Fleuré, Michel Kulbicki, Nicolas Loiseau, David Mouillot, Julien P. Renoult, Aliénor Stahl, Rick D. Stuart Smith, Anne-Sophie Tribot, Nicolas Mouquet. PLOS Biology DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001640 Published: June 7, 2022

This paper is open access.

You can find Nicolas Mouquet’s eponymous website here and you can start the coral reef survey here: https://www.biodiful.org/#/beautifulcorals.

RFID (radio frequency indentification) tag on a single sheet of paper?

RFID tags are used to track all kinds of things and according to this Wikipedia essay, even people,

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the use of a wireless non-contact radio system to transfer data from a tag attached to an object, for the purposes of automatic identification and tracking. Some tags require no battery and are powered by the radio waves used to read them. Others use a local power source. The tag contains electronically stored information which can be read from up to several metres (yards) away. Unlike a bar code, the tag does not need to be within line of sight of the reader and may be embedded in the tracked object.

Since RFID tags can be attached to clothing, possessions, or even implanted within people, the possibility of reading personally-linked information without consent has raised privacy concerns.

Now, French researchers have developed a means of making RFID tags even easier to attach and could further increase privacy concerns. From the Feb. 6, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags are an essential component of modern shopping, logistics, warehouse, and stock control for toll roads, casino chips and much more. They provide a simple way to track the item to which the tag is attached. Now, researchers in France have developed a way to deposit a thin aluminum RFID tag on to paper that not only reduces the amount of metal needed for the tag, and so the cost, but could open up RFID tagging to many more systems, even allowing a single printed sheet or flyer to be tagged …

The researchers used this technique,

There are several techniques used to deposit an antenna on PET: etching, electroplating; and on paper: screen printing, flexography and offset lithography. Now, Camille Ramade and colleagues at the University of Montpellier have demonstrated how a simple thermal evaporation process can deposit an aluminum coil antenna on to paper for use as an RFID tag. Aluminum is a lot less expensive than copper or silver, which are used in some types of RFID tag. The researchers suggest that the approach would reduce the cost of RFID tagging to a fifth of current prices, which could represent significant savings for inventory users operating millions of RFID tags in their systems.

For anyone who’s curious about PET, it’s a plastic substrate. From the NAPCOR website page about PET,

PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic resin and a form of polyester.