Mapping precision

Harvey E. Ballard, Jr. hballard at STUDENTS.WISC.EDU
Mon Dec 9 09:32:54 CST 1996

The state Heritage programs have a mapping precision field (as well as a
data sensitivity field) for occurrences of a particular species.  The
precision states consist of "to the second" or better, "only to the minute"
or "only to the degree.  It's an order of magnitude range, but it's useful.
The database also includes fields for the source of the
information--whether based only on the specimen itself, or a sight record,
etc., and who provided the information or where the specimen is deposited.

In my own database, for certain fields I record exactly and only what a
herbarium specimen has on the label.  Additional information I insert in
the comments field, or if I put lat and long in the field and I interpreted
it from other sources not the specimen (Atlas USA software, for instance,
has a lat and long function for sites you locate on the US map), then I put
these in brackets to indicate I interpreted them.

I agree that the initial database should have every scrap of information to
the nth degree, period.  What one distributes to the general public depends
on what one's function and contributions are or should be.  Insofar as the
UW-Madison herbarium database's sensitive (e.g., orchid) records are
concerned, certain records have password protection, requiring curator or
database manager assistance by ANYONE wishing to examine locality data for
those records.

Harvey Ballard

Harvey E. Ballard, Jr.
Postdoctoral Researcher, USDA-ARS, Potato Systematics Labs
1575 Horticulture, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison WI 53706
(608) 262-0159
University of Wisconsin Herbarium
132 Birge, 430 Lincoln Drive
Madison WI 53706
(608) 262-2792

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