[Taxacom] End of the map era?

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Sun Jul 26 21:17:57 CDT 2009

While collecting recently, I suddenly realised that I hadn't used a paper map in the field for years. I either record specimen localities as GPS waypoints, or in poor reception areas I draw careful sketch maps and approximate the collecting site afterwards using Google Earth. I've also stopped getting elevations from paper maps, because it's quicker and easier to get an approximate elevation from Google Earth, and that GE elevation is nearly always better (referenced to sea level rather than to a geoid) than the one on my GPS.

For fieldwork I also need cadastral information, since I often want to go onto private property and need to get permission from the owner. Since my State government provides this information online and up to date with a simple Web GIS, I no longer need to consult a paper map with tenure boundaries. Ditto with vegetation in most cases: online and freely available GIS data give me more up-to-date and often more accurate veg data than I can get from available paper mapping.

The only use I now have for paper maps is historical research on old localities. An example is a search I did on a museum specimen labeled only with a grid reference - in yards, from a 1950s map!

This may sound *so* 20th century to some Taxacomers, but possibly not to others. Questions:

(1) Is no-paper-maps the norm for fieldwork these days?
(2) If not, where are paper maps still needed, and for what purposes?
(3) Does anyone still record occurrences in paper-map units (mapsheet so-and-so)? In political units (counties, vice-counties, etc)?
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
Website: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/mesibov.html

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