Data Entry Query

Doug Yanega dyanega at POP.UCR.EDU
Wed Jan 8 10:22:33 CST 2003

Barbara Thiers wrote:

>However, I don't subscribe to the idea that databasing should be deferred
>until one is certain that all specimens are determined and curated

As Chris Thompson points out, I think this approach only works for
collections where the ratio of specimens to data entry personnel is
low, such as herbaria. When you have a few million insect specimens
in your backlog, and one data entry person, there is simply no
practical way to retrospectively capture all that data, so one MUST
limit data capture to *new* material, and to specimens that are
actively being worked on by specialists. Just keeping up with those
two things alone can be a challenge for most entomological

>As to the question posed in the original post, two bottlenecks that we
>encounter are nomenclature (what is the correct name to use, when the
>taxonomy of a group is currently in flux?)

This problem would vanish if the taxonomic community would adopt some
form of name registration (yes, the dreaded "R" word), where every
taxon is assigned a random unique number.

>Other bottlenecks are deciphering handwriting and incomplete names of people
>-- e.g., when a collector or an author is given just as "Smith" obviously
>additional work has to be done to figure out which Smith is meant (or to
>determine that the data are insufficient to figure it out).

Again, maybe it's different for botanists, given the use of
"acquisition numbers" and such, but for myself, I've found it an
exceedingly rare thing to encounter an insect specimen for which
knowing the name of the collector is crucial to deciphering anything
regarding where or when it was collected, or what taxon it is -
unless, of course, the collector is still alive and they left
important data off the label entirely, meaning one can track them
down and harrass them until they cough up the missing data. ;-)


Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California - Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521
phone: (909) 787-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

More information about the Taxacom mailing list