No subject

Sun Aug 6 11:01:48 CDT 1995

Dear taxonomists,

Lynn S. Kimsey Wrote:

>Somehow biologists always behave as if their problems, in this
>case tracking specimens, lots of specimens or whatever, are
>somehow unique. Has it ever occurred to any of you that industry
>has not only managed but mastered how to track anything from
>individual widgets to warehouses of stuff. As a result, if you look
>outside the biological community you may be suprised to find that
>these problems have already been solved in simple easy to
>implement ways, usually with software and hardware available
>off the shelf (so to speak).

As part of our environmental monitoring programs, we routinely use
computer based sample tracking procedures.  This is now required for
Quality Assurance (QA).  What happens is that labels are printed out
that have unique sample tracking numbers with bar codes.  These bar
codes can be scanned at various stages in sample collection,
processing, and archiving, so that managers can always tell where the
samples are.  As an example, in our benthic programs in Boston Harbor
and Massachusetts Bays, the grab samples are used to retain samples for
benthic infauna, sediment grain size, total organic carbon, Clostridium
analysis, organic contaminants, and metals.  Each of these samples are
eventually shipped to a laboratory for analysis.  Tracking sheets
containing the unique sample code numbers accompany all samples and the
receiving laboratories are required to return sheets when they receive
them and verify the contents.  The sample tracking is updated for each
step in the laboratory analysis and eventually for any that are
archived.  For the biology, the prcedures do not continue to the
species level, but there is no reason why it could not. I don't see why
similar procedures could not be applied to curating.  We have the
technology and it is user friendly!!

James A. Blake
ENSR Consulting and Engineering
89 Water Street
Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543 USA
(508) 457-7900; FAX (508) 457-7595
E-mail: jablake at

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