Georeferencing and taxon stewardship

Robert Mesibov mesibov at SOUTHCOM.COM.AU
Tue Sep 14 11:37:06 CDT 2004

Another issue involved in retrospective georeferencing is how to manage and
control the spatial data. Here's what I mean. Suppose I'm working up a
genus. I'll be using GIS to prepare the species distribution maps for
publication, so I retrospectively georeference all the older locality
records for specimens which I feel confident I can assign to a species.

I now have a database of named specimen records with some spatially upgraded
localities. I get an email from the data-hungry Gigantic All-Encompassing
Biodiversity Project. Would I share with the GABP all my specimen records
for the genus?

My current answer is 'No'. Until I've published the revision, my assignments
of names to specimens, and my upgrading of older localities, are works in
progress. When the revision is published, IMO, those data move into the
public domain. Even if I haven't published the spatial upgrades (and I
usually don't, they're only implied in the distribution maps), the GABP can
still get them from me gratis in electronic form. But not until I've

A related issue is whether and how to share spatial upgrades with the
institutions which hold the specimens in question. When a taxonomist does
such upgrades, should she simply send a reprint with the information to the
institutions from which she borrowed the specimens, or at which she examined
the specimens? Or does good taxon stewardship in 2004 mean sending emails to
those institutions with the spatial data in electronic form, ready for
pasting into the collection database?
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
and School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home address: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
Home phone: (03) 6437 1195

More information about the Taxacom mailing list