[Taxacom] End of the map era?

Jeff Webb jmw975 at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 26 21:42:49 CDT 2009

I too no longer use paper maps, other than a road atlas. I now take my netbook with me with a mobile broadband modem so I can use Google Maps/Earth while in the field. Now that Maps has stream names and contour lines, it's as good or better than most paper maps, especially when combined with Streetview to check on a stream/road crossing ahead of time. Streetview is a great tool for people collecting in streams -  most collecting localities are at road crossings, so you can check on the type of habitat from historical collections, without even vising the site. 

The only time I've been required to use a paper map lately was as part of an application for sampling in a National Park - they specified that all sites had to be indicated on a 1:50,000 topo map and anything by Google was most definitely not acceptable. 

 Jeff Webb 

Department of Environmental Management and Ecology
La Trobe University, Albury-Wodonga Campus
PO Box 821 
Wodonga, Victoria, Australia 

From: Bob Mesibov <mesibov at southcom.com.au>
To: TAXACOM <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Monday, July 27, 2009 12:17:57 PM
Subject: [Taxacom] End of the map era?

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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