[Taxacom] GBIF updating

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Fri Aug 22 21:27:59 CDT 2014

The solution to problems like this is excruciatingly simple: an annotation facility (something like the talk page associated with a Wikimedia page), preferably a with a big red flag set on the page itself (so the annotation doesn't get overlooked). Alas, I expect that such a solution would require GBIF to publicly admit imperfection, which may turn up the noses of many users (both 'crats and humans alike!)


On Sat, 23/8/14, Bob Mesibov <mesibov at southcom.com.au> wrote:

 Subject: [Taxacom] GBIF updating
 To: "TAXACOM" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Saturday, 23 August, 2014, 1:56 PM
 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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 Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
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 Celebrating 27 years of Taxacom in 2014.

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