[Taxacom] Species Pages - effort required

Charles Hussey c.hussey at nhm.ac.uk
Mon Feb 2 03:30:44 CST 2009

So how much effort would be required to finish the job? In other words, if EoL is to get a species page up for species that are of concern (iconic species, species of conservation concern, commercially important, pests, invasives, etc. - say 500,000 species) with content that includes vernacular names, significant synonymy, distinguishing characters, some biological fcat, distribution data, a picture; then how many hours of effort will that take? And, given that this is supposed to happen mainly by voluntary contribution, by when could this be completed.
Answering my own question, let us say it takes 1 hour to assemble a species page. If 500 persons contribute 2 hours per week then it would get done in 500 weeks - 10 years.
My interest is not in whether EoL suceeds or not (or whether it is worth attempting - which I believe it is), but that the amount of effort that is being is contributed, across the globe, by volunteers is properly accounted and acknowledged. Let us put a value on collecting, observation data, compiling species inventories, checking nomenclature. Even if no actual financial recompense can be provided, at least decision makers can be made aware of the true cost of supplying - and maintaining, biodiversity information. 
(So using the figures above and applying the UK minimum hourly wage of 5.73 GB Pounds (8.15 US Dollars), the cost of compiling the species pages would be 2,865,000 pounds (4,075,000 dollars) - OK, just raise 10 million dollars and get the job done in 5 years!)
I should be interested to learn how many hours (say per month) individuals in our community put into voluntary work to compile databases, websites, etc.
Charles Hussey
Science Data Co-ordinator,
UK Biodiversity Programme,
Natural History Museum,
Cromwell Road,
London SW7 5BD
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 207 942 5213


From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu on behalf of Felix Sperling
Sent: Sun 01/02/2009 22:41
To: Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu; Roger Hyam
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Species Pages - where are the online descriptions?


Here are species pages for 2500 insects (and a few spiders) that 
occur in Alberta:  http://www.entomology.ualberta.ca/index.html

Hit "Search the collection", select a species name from the pick list 
in the middle panel, and search for that page.
For example:

Distribution maps and seasonal phenology histograms are generated 
dynamically from the data on specimens in our collections, mainly the 
University of Alberta Strickland Museum of Entomology.

Content is mostly built by a few dedicated amateurs, with structural 
support from the University of Alberta. Pages for some groups of taxa 
have been produced under contracts that I cobbled together when I 
could get funding. Others have been produced by senior undergrad or 
grad students in an advanced taxonomy course that I teach. We are 
proud to have managed to produce 2500 species pages, but it is 
humbling to think that it has taken about 8 years to get this far, 
and we have still only done the easy 10% of the insects known from 
Alberta. But the Lepidoptera pages are about half done, and are 
supported by a local group called the Alberta Lepidopterists' Guild:


Felix Sperling, Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
cw405a Biological Sciences Centre
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta  T6G 2E9  Canada
Office: 780-492-3991;  Fax: 780-492-9234

On 1-Feb-09, at 3:58 AM, Roger Hyam wrote:

> Hi,
> I am looking for websites that have good "Species Pages". By species
> page I mean (and this is my definition) a page that contains a
> description of the species and not a page that simply lists the
> nomenclature associated with the acceptance of a name. You could send
> the URL of a species page to a student who didn't know what the
> organism was and they could use it to confirm the identity of a
> specimen.
> An example of what I think of as a species page is  the Fishbase page
> for Gadus morhua (Atlantic Cod):
> http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=69
> There is a lot of information on this page and a description of the
> organism can be gleaned from it.
> This FloraBase page is another example:
> http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/26
> Very brief but attempts to define the taxon.
> Wikipedia has a good page for cod but there isn't a good taxon
> description so it is a borderline species page
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gadus_morhua
> Catalogue of Life has a goal of producing a page for every species and
> it aims to do this by combining pre-existing data I believe but I
> wonder where this data is.
> Their page on badger comes from Arkive (http://www.arkive.org/) which
> is an imaging database http://eol.org/pages/328046 and their page on
> cod comes from Fishbase http://eol.org/pages/206692
> Pages I don't consider Species Pages are:
> Catalogue of Life has a page that comes from Fishbase but that chucks
> out the "useful" information and only maintains the nomenclature.
> http://www.catalogueoflife.org/show_species_details.php?
> record_id=5347829
> The ITIS page is similar to the CoL page
> http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?
> search_topic=TSN&search_value=164712
> Likewise Fauna Europaea page for Meles meles (Badger) lacks a
> description because it is a nomenclatural database.
> http://www.faunaeur.org/full_results.php?id=305312
> I'd like to build a list of sites offering "real" species page
> information - with descriptions. At the moment it seems like the major
> source of these pages are electronic versions of the literature. We
> have good descriptions in sources like eFloras.org http:// <http:///> 
> www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=5&taxon_id=242417133
>   and I hope BHL will be a source. This is a shame as these pages
> typically lack large numbers of images and the possibility of
> including other media.
> I'd be grateful for any suggestions of sites that contain species
> pages (as per my definition).
> Many thanks,
> Roger
> BTW: I'd rather use the term "Taxon Page" as these things could apply
> at any rank but there seems to be a consensus to call them Species
> Pages no matter what rank they apply to and people are typically
> interested in species.
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