Degrees of Separation

Facebook may be great for cute kitty videos and baby pictures, but who knew it could play a role in science? Brian Sidlauskas, an Oregon State University fish biologist, and his team used the popular social network to advance their study of biodiversity in a South American rain forest.

This video produced by Facebook, Degrees of Separation, shows how they did it.

In 2011, the researchers netted a dazzling array of fish from the Cuyuni River in Guyana, some never before seen by scientists. The challenge: how to make sense of the bounty. The answer: reach out to colleagues through the Internet.

Sidlauskas and his graduate student, Whitcomb Bronaugh, took photos of the fish and posted them to Facebook. Within 24 hours, they had identifications from dozens of colleagues around the world.