[Taxacom] GBIF updating

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Fri Aug 22 20:56:42 CDT 2014

If you search today (23 August 2014) for 'Tasmanipatus anophthalmus' and 'Tasmanipatus barretti' in GBIF you'll learn that they're velvet worms and that their habitat is (quote) Not marine (unquote). On the same species page, the map shows one record for each in the ocean, about 150 km west of Tasmania.

I know both records well, since I was the collector for the first and co-collector for the second. The specimens were deposited in the Australian Museum. The Museum entered the label data in its database. Later the Museum uploaded its records to OZCAM (Online Zoological Collections of Australian Museums), which pushed them to ALA (Atlas of Living Australia), which sent them to GBIF. Somewhere along this pipeline 148 degrees longitude became 143 degrees and put the velvet worms in the ocean.

I discovered the error in May 2013 and pointed it out to an ALA staffer. He found out for me that range-based outlier checks were only being done at ALA for terrestrial records, and these two records were marine. Expert-vetted distributions for other outlier tests were only available for fish and birds. He flagged the record in ALA, which meant that an email went to the Australian Museum querying the occurrence data.

The Museum contacted me the same month. I corrected the records (and some others) for the Museum.

In January 2014 I checked ALA. The two records had been fixed (although there two new, strange problems with the data and access to it). I have no idea how often GBIF 'synchronises' data with ALA, but 15 months after I notified their upstream provider about the location error, the velvet worms are still at sea. One of the species is IUCN Red-Listed as 'endangered', probably drowning.
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Land and Food, University of Tasmania
Home contact:
PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195

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