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Machine Learning Challenges of Biological Factors in Insect Image Data


The BIOSCAN project, led by the International Barcode of Life Consortium, seeks to study changes in biodiversity on a global scale. One component of the project is focused on studying the species interaction and dynamics of all insects. In addition to genetically barcoding insects, over 1.5 million images per year will be collected, each needing taxonomic classification. With the immense volume of incoming images, relying solely on expert taxonomists to label the images would be impossible; however, artificial intelligence and computer vision technology may offer a viable high-throughput solution. Additional tasks including manually weighing individual insects to determine biomass, remain tedious and costly. Here again, computer vision may offer an efficient and compelling alternative. While the use of computer vision methods is appealing for addressing these problems, significant challenges resulting from biological factors present themselves. These challenges are formulated in the context of machine learning in this paper.