[Taxacom] Occurrence data...

Walker, Ken kwalker at museum.vic.gov.au
Fri Feb 18 00:21:31 CST 2011

> Well, it gets back to my favourite question about biodiversity data aggregation: who is going to use the data, and for what purposes?

I do sometimes get tetchy when people want pre-defined and listed uses of data.

I remember once a visit from our Auditor Generals' Office who asked me why do we keep a drawer of insects if it has not been used in the past 10 years?

Last week, I attended the SciColl conference held here in Melbourne and heard two interesting stories:

-       The dental calculus from skulls stored in museums has suddenly been found to be a treasure trove of bacteria that is being used to map population migrations across the Pacific and to date when diets changed.  Unfortunately, the collection managers of some museums have been so efficient that they have cleaned the teeth of the skulls they house and lost all of this data.  The use of dental calculus is relatively new only because the techniques were not previously available to utilise that data source.

-       A number of collections hold insect specimens that date back before the industrial revolution or resistance to pesticides.  Ancient DNA techniques have now transitioned these previous natural history "curiosities" into a whole new role in science.

It is amazing what people can find to do with data - the obstacle can often be people not wanting others to find ways to use their data that they had not thought of themselves.

Have a good weekend


Dr Ken Walker
Senior Curator, Entomology
Museum Victoria
GPO Box 666
Melbourne  Vic 3001 Australia

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

Melbourne Museum – Major Tourist Attraction
Scienceworks – Tourist Attraction
This e-mail is solely for the named addressee and may be confidential. You should only read, disclose, transmit, copy, distribute, act in reliance on or commercialise the contents if you are authorised to do so. If you are not the intended recipient of this e-mail, please notify mailto:npostmaster at museum.vic.gov.au by email immediately, or notify the sender and then destroy any copy of this message. Views expressed in this email are those of the individual sender, except where specifically stated to be those of an officer of Museum Victoria. Museum Victoria does not represent, warrant or guarantee that the integrity of this communication has been maintained nor that it is free from errors, virus or interference.

More information about the Taxacom mailing list