[Taxacom] Occurrence data...

fautin at ku.edu fautin at ku.edu
Sat Feb 19 13:21:19 CST 2011

This is how it should be for deep marine species.  Collections are 
typically made at "stations."  It can be complex and time-consuming to 
make deep-sea collections (launch and tow a net, bottles, etc., then 
retrieve the collecting devices and sort the contents).  All specimens 
(particularly for bottom collections) clearly came from the same place. 
Particularly for the historic collections, such as the Swedish and German 
Deep Sea Expeditions, the Galathea Expedition, etc., members of each taxon 
were sent to the taxonomic experts of the time, and they published a 
chapter on their findings in a series of proceedings from the expedition
(contemporary collections are typically published in any appropriate 
journal).  There was no integration of what taxa co-occur.

The only ocean-going biological expedition of which I am aware that did 
that was the Challenger (1873-1876), which published 50 volumes of 
proceedings, the final two of which are station-by-station accounts.  I 
have visions of little 12-year-old British boys running around a room 
chalking up names under each station's number as the results from each 
taxon arrived.  However it was done, it is magnificent.

But now with computers, all of us taxon experts can simply link 
occurrences, as we identify specimens, to a master list and voila!  Some 
sense of ecology.  I had hoped OBIS would provide the central integration 
point for this but my desideratum fell on deaf ears.

All the stations from which sea anemones were collected for any expedition 
of which I am aware are available for download from my database.  In fact, 
we entered all stations of the Challenger, whether anemones were collected 
or not, along with environmental data collected (surface and bottom 
temperature, salinity, bottom type) as well as gear used (which affects 
what is and is not collected), so they are also available.  We entered 
data on cepahalopods collected to CephBase (not sure it is still 
functional), and linked those records to our master Challenger station 
data, which also has a GIS connection so the location of the station is 
shown on a map.  It worked as we had hoped.  But it was not picked up 

So the concept works.  And it would save everyone enormous amounts of time 
-- as well as providing a much better view of biology than the taxon by 
taxon efforts we have do.  Best of all, records can be stratified by date, 
so biota in any collections made recently in the same general area as a 
Challenger station can be compared to what the Challenger found...

Daphne G. Fautin
Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Curator, Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center
Haworth Hall
University of Kansas
1200 Sunnyside Avenue
Lawrence, Kansas 66045-7534  USA

telephone 1-785-864-3062
fax 1-785-864-5321
evo user name fautin
website http://invertebratezoology.biodiversity.ku.edu/home

       direct to database of hexacorals, including sea anemones
               newest version released 22 December 2010

On Fri, 18 Feb 2011, Tom Schweich wrote:

> On 2/18/2011 12:52 PM, Chris Thompson wrote:
>> So, one should preserve and report all original label data. AND also dig up
>> and report information as available about the collecting event, the
>> collector, etc. AND then take all the information to properly geo-code the
>> locality.
> This sounds suspiciously like trying to understand the context of a
> collection by reading the collector's field notes (if they exist), or
> attempting to create something like field notes by querying all of the
> collector's collection from a given day.  The unfortunate result of
> filing specimens taxonomically is that we break up a set of collections
> made at the same time, and lose the relationship between the
> collections.  Perhaps one way to avoid losing the context would be to
> add collectors' field notes, or something like them, into our data base
> as an entity that can then be related to the collections.
> UC/JEPS has started this by serving scans of Willis Linn Jepson's field
> notebooks with links to the collection.   See, for example:
> http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/display_fb.pl?page_no=47_452
> -- 
> Tom Schweich KJ6BIT tas27 at schweich.com
> http://www.schweich.com
> http://twitter.com/schweich
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