Stop illegal logging! The automated ebony identifier is on its way. Ebony wood is widely used in musical instrument parts, such as violin fingerboards and chin rests. Due to overharvesting, Malagasy ebony has been marked as an endangered species and the trade in wood harvested after 2014 is now illegal. I will develop a software-automated ebony species identifier to increase awareness among musicians of the use of illegally logged wood with the ultimate goal of protecting endangered ebony species against extinction.
Acoustic string instruments are made of several hardwood species, including ebony (Diospyros). Many species of ebony are nowadays over-exploited in the wild. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) placed all species of ebony from Madagascar on Appendix II in 2014 but other species are not legally protected. Computational microscopic phenotyping based on wood anatomical sections, chemical profiling and DNA barcoding are increasingly used to recognize wood traded under Forest Stewardschip Council (FSC) labels. Therefore, anatomy data, DNA barcodes and DART-TOF MS will be collected from reference specimens. Metabarcodes will be generated from ebony wood used in (parts of) instruments supplied by violin and bow builders and compared with microscopy, DART-TOF MS and bomb peak calibrated 14C dates to distinguish antique wood from wood harvested after 2013.
Objective: Species-level identification of ebony wood for control of trade in legally protected species.
Frederic Lens, Chao Liang, Yuanhao Guo, Xiaoqin Tang, Jahanbanifard M, Flavio Soares Correa da Silva, Gregorio Ceccantini, and Fons J. Verbeek 2020. Computer-assisted timber identification based on features extracted from microscopic wood sections. International Association of Wood Anatomists.
Mehrdad Jahanbanifard, Vicky Beckers, Gerald Koch, Hans Beeckman, Barbara Gravendeel, Fons Verbeek, Pieter Baas, Carlijn Priester, and Frederic Lens 2020. Description and evolution of wood anatomical characters in the ebony wood genus Diospyros and its close relatives (Ebenaceae): a first step towards combatting illegal logging. IAWA Journal 0 (0), 2020: 1–43