Biodiversitists (that's an _awful_ word) and computers

William L at
Wed May 21 13:07:47 CDT 1997

More thoughts regarding Dave Chesmore's suggestions.

There are areas where computer facilities and the web could be of real
use.  The problem as I see it breaks down into two parts:

1. The large number of species awaiting description.

2. The lack of manuals including those which have already been

Suppose that a program could be established to publish descriptions on
the web.  A central facility perhaps, where one would submit
descriptions.  The description would then be forwarded elctronically to
a couple of referees, who would append comments, and shoot it back. The
editor would have the right to decide that the referee's objections were
purely stylistc and  publish the description as is or send it back to
author for changes. The published description would go to a mailing list
of people who had registered interest in that particular taxonomic group
and to Zoological Record. Illustrations could accompany the description
as attachments.

With regard to manuals, why not have a server where want lists could be
posted. A group of specialists could undertake a cooperative project to
work up a manual for taxon a in region b, posting working versions on
the server for comment and help such as a contributed key couplet.  Line
drawings illustrating key choices could be scanned in and the final
result posted on the server where anyone could download it and print out
a copy to actually use at the lab table. There are some good examples
out there, now.  But most are oriented towards working on the computer,
usually slowly because of the transmission lag, and I'm talking about a
printed out final product that could be put to practical use in lab
environments unfriendly to computers.

So, there's a nice fat target: somebody shoot me down,

Will Pratt

Dr. William L. Pratt, Curator of Invertebrates
Marjorie Barrick Museum of Natural History
University of Nevada, Las Vegas Box 454009
Las Vegas, NV 89154-4009
(702)895-1403, fax (702)895-3094 e-mail prattw at

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