[Taxacom] Field Biologist Data Gathering Tools

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Tue Mar 27 18:16:55 CDT 2007

Bob Mesibov wrote:

>...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?

It's called "necessity" - if EVERY specimen in your collection has 
data recorded in a database, you are going to be compelled to 
maintain that database in perpetuity. Where there's a will, there's a 

>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.

Exactly why having a large number of idiosyncratic code systems for 
small numbers of specimens within a larger collection gets unwieldy, 
quickly. Having a single unified code system for all of one's 
specimens is far preferrable.

>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.

Every specimen we collect is giving a (UID) database label and 
registered in the database simultaneous with the date/locality label 
(each unique locality has its own record, as well). Over 95% are 
unidentified, and most will remain that way for decades - they are 
insects, after all. That doesn't keep them from being databased. If 
they are ever identified, the ID is simply added to the database 
record; if it's a species-level ID, all that needs to be entered is a 
single number (so there are no spelling errors), and the name of the 
person who did the ID.

It is quite possible to bring a number of database labels into the 
field, and actually attach labels to specimens as they are collected, 
and couple this with field data capture.


Doug Yanega        /Dept. of Entomology         /Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California - Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521-0314
phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
    Skype: Dyanega               http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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