[Taxacom] Field Biologist Data Gathering Tools

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Tue Mar 27 17:44:05 CDT 2007

Doug Yanega wrote:

"Therefore, the  information in the database is generally far more detailed 
and far more important (should anyone need to know about the specimen) than 
what is written on the label."

I agree. But your specimens and their archive-quality paper labels have a 
good chance of lasting the next 8-10 generations of taxonomists (200-250 
years) with only minimal maintenance. Is there a way to ensure that the "far 
more detailed and far more important" database will last as long? We print 
out those locality/date/collector labels (from database fields with 
carefully validated entries) as insurance.

I entered this thread because I understood Richard Pyle was discussing the 
digital-age versions of field notebooks. These have considerable value to 
the field workers who use them and their colleagues, but are only useful to 
posterity if there is a concordance between their contents and particular 
museum specimens. Ours wouldn't be the only museum which was given field 
notebooks accompanying collections, only to find that we needed to spend 
long hours trying to decipher codes, to work out which specimen lot went 
with which collecting event.

Perhaps the simplest link between digital notebook and collection database 
would be a UID for each collecting event. Specimen UIDs (registration 
numbers) would then be daughters of the collecting-event UIDs. I've used 
this system for many years by maintaining a collecting event table with 
serially numbered entries. Unfortunately, a complete 
collecting-event_to_registration-number mapping isn't possible, because many 
of the specimens haven't been identified and following museum practice, 
aren't registered.
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
and School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195

Australian Millipedes Checklist
Tasmanian Multipedes
Spatial data basics for Tasmania

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