News about Biota: The Biodiversity Database Manager

Robert K. Colwell colwell at UCONNVM.UCONN.EDU
Fri Feb 27 16:50:26 CST 1998

>>>>News about Biota: The Biodiversity Database Manager<<<<

Biota: The Biodiversity Database Manager, is a Windows and Macintosh
application for specimen-based, biological data and collections
management for individuals, projects, museums, and herbaria.

Subject headings in this message:

o  Who Is Using Biota?
o  Published Reviews of Biota
o  Announcing BiotaList, the Forum for Biota Users and Potential Users
o  Release of Biota Ver. 1.3 and Supplement 2 to the Biota Manual
o  What=B9s New in Biota 1.3?
o  The Basics: What is Biota?

>>Who Is Using Biota?<<

Since Biota=B9s release 7 months ago for Windows 95 and NT, and 13
months ago for Macintosh, Biota has been adopted users in 22 =
on 6 continents, and in 42 states in the US. Users include =
collection managers,  ecologists, survey managers, conservation
biologists, and reserve managers.

>> Published Reviews of Biota<<

Two reviews of Biota have appeared, by David Cannatella in Systematic
Biology (46: 574-575 ) and David Inouye in Ecology (78: 2641-2642 ). =
can read excerpts of their reviews on the Biota website at

>> Announcing BiotaList, the Forum for Biota Users and Potential

A number of Biota users (and potential users) have asked to be put in
touch with other users, to share strategies and to benefit from the
experience of others using or wondering about using Biota for similar
objectives. Rather than attempt to broker these exchanges of
information, I have set up a listserver forum, called BiotaList. The
forum is devoted to all aspects of using Biota in collections =
systematics, ecology, conservation biology, biotic inventories, or =
other use. Since the list is just getting started, it will take =
awhile to build
a subscriber list, so I promise you will not be immediately deluged =

TO SUBSCRIBE to BiotaList : Send a message from your email account to
biotalist at, with the word =B3Subscribe=B2 in the
message SUBJECT (not in the body of the message, as with some
listservers). You will receive a welcome message with full details of =
to post messages to BiotaList, how to unsubscribe, and other options.

>> Release of Biota Ver. 1.3 and Supplement 2 to the Biota Manual<<

I am pleased to announce the release of Biota 1.3, available now for
downloading from the Biota website
( to all registered Biota users.
Supplement 2 to the Biota Manual, which details new features in this
version, is available online at the Biota website. Version 1.3 now =
1.2 as the shipping version from Biota=B9s publisher, Sinauer =
( NOTE to Biota Users: If you have not yet sent in
your Registration Card to Sinauer, please do so now so you can
download the new version. If you have lost your card or Registration
Number, email me.

Among other new features, Biota 1.3 offers full international
compatibility for date formats, diacritics, and image display format =

>> What=B9s New in Biota 1.3?<<

This section summarizes ONLY some of the features added to Biota =
Version 1.2, which was released in June, 1997. For a general overview =
Biota features see the next section (The Basics: What Is Biota?) and =
the Biota website (

*Automatic support for international date format.* . Biota 1.3
automatically follows your operating system date =
or US format. Limitation to US date format in earlier versions has =
completely eliminated. All Biota Data Files are back compatible.

* Special character import/export in Windows.* All "high-ASCII"
characters (characters with accents and other diacritics) are now =
correctly when using Biota=B9s Import Editor or export tools, =
eliminating a
limitation  in earlier Windows versions. (Not a problem on the
Macintosh platform.)

*Image Zoom windows.* You can now display images individually in
768 x 576 pixel windows (PAL video format), for study and comparison.

*New Export options.* Now you can export Localities-by-Species
incidence or abundance tables, as well as Collections-by-Species =
Both tools now offer two additional file formats: EstimateS format =
(visit and Cornell Condensed Format
(CANOCO and DECORANA). Biota has many other export options,
including NEXUS format.

*New options for Herbarium Labels.* In addition to the many  existing
options, you can now change font size for label text, choose 4 or 6 =
to a page, opt to place the Collector=B9s Number in its own field or =
after the
Collector=B9s name, print labels with or without borders, save the =
label text
to disk file instead of printing, and save settings between sessions.

*Longer data fields.* Data fields are now 80 characters for Locality =
(Locality table), Species Author, Subspecies Author, Variety Author, =
Common Names (Species table), and all Auxiliary Field Values fields.

*Queries based on Notes.* You can now use the Search Editor to find
records based on the author, date, or content of linked Notes records.

*Keyboard override of wildcard input for linking fields.* This change
allows you to create new parent records on the fly when the Key value
matches the first part of an existing Key value.

*Junior synonym Specimen record display.* You can tell Biota to =
Specimen records for junior synonyms when you click the Specimens
button in the Species input screen of a senior synonym.

>> The Basics: What is Biota?<<

Biota helps you manage spatially-referenced, specimen-based
biodiversity and collections data through easy-to-use graphical =
to a fully relational database structure, based on a subset on the =
ASC Data
Model. With a comprehensive, profusely illustrated manual to back up
intuitive menus and screens, Biota offers a rich array of user-tested =
for rapid data input, update, maintenance, analysis, and reporting.
Biota's capable Import Editor helps you convert your existing data =
sets to
Biota's relational structure, and a wide array of text and image file =
tools provides easy access to your data for analysis and publication =
other applications.

Biota Features include unlimited user-definable fields, recursive
specimen relations (host-parasite, specimen-DNA), specimen
determination histories,  barcode input options, loan management, and
a password security system. Special export format options include =
species matrices (delimited  text, Cornell condensed, or EstimateS =
NEXUS files, journal-ready specimens examined lists, and server-ready
Web pages for any selection of records. (For an example of Biota web
pages, visit the University of Colorado online entomology site, at
--and follow the Species List link.)

Platforms and Formats:  Biota is available  for Windows 95, NT, and
Macintosh platforms. Biota Data Files are fully transportable between
platforms. Biota is offered in either single-user, standalone (EXE) =
(BiotaApp, $125), or in multi-user, multi-platform, client/server =
(Biota4D). Visit the Sinauer website ( to learn more
about processor and format options, or the Biota website
( for more information on Biota.

--Robert Colwell News about Biota: The Biodiversity Database Manager

Robert K. Colwell, Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, U-43
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-3042, USA
Voice: 860-486-4395   Fax 860-486-3790
E-mail: colwell at
Visit the Biota Website at
& the EstimateS Website at

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