[Taxacom] Chameleons, GBIF, and the Red List

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Sat Aug 23 19:31:36 CDT 2014

Four plus million per year! Now I see why there is such a big drive to
develop these data bases. Certainly no money just for making web resources
on a particular taxon. Heck, I would be happy just to get 4,000 per year
for mine.

John Grehan

On Sat, Aug 23, 2014 at 8:21 PM, Bob Mesibov <mesibov at southcom.com.au>

> Responding to Quentin Groom:
> "I personally find GBIF very useful for all sorts of purposes and I don't
> understand the expectation of perfection of some of the Taxacomers."
> No one expects perfection. Do you think 7% useful data for chameleons is
> acceptable?
> "GBIF is just raw data."
> Misleading. GBIF contains abbreviated/truncated data. In my own published
> GBIF audit, 45% of the records lacked the locality text from the provider's
> database. Other fields are missing from other providers' databases. GBIF is
> also seriously incomplete, because not all potential providers have
> uploaded data, existing providers haven't uploaded all their data, and
> updating is slow.
> "If I use data from GBIF I am sceptical and some data is more reliable
> than others."
> Good, you're a Skeptical User. In that sentence you could have said 'from
> [any source]'.
> "What is the alternative? Should I go to all the different providers
> individually and collect the same data individually. It would be an
> impossible task, even to discover who had what."
> It has never been easy to discover who had what, and it still isn't,
> because GBIF is incomplete. I can't speak for every taxonomist and
> conservation biologist, but I do my taxonomy without attempting to track
> every possible specimen in every possible repository around the world. I
> find the largest relevant collections and the key specimens from the
> literature, and start from there. 'Start' means contacting the collections,
> not relying on what GBIF tells me is registered.
> If the goal is gathering up specimens or records, GBIF offers one of
> several possible approaches, *depending on your subject matter*. The
> alternatives for many taxa are expert-compiled and -vetted online
> resources. Evidently your subject matter isn't covered by those
> alternatives. As I said earlier, those alternatives offer better data, more
> of it, contactable compilers and (usually) better updating.
> "Progress of GBIF is slow, because of the massive political challenges,
> the tiny budget and the inaction of providers, but we would be
> significantly impoverished without it."
> We're back to market research. Who is the "we" in that sentence, and what
> does "significantly" mean for the purposes that "we" use it? You personally
> find GBIF very useful. I don't, and neither do the Europeans I mentioned in
> my first post, nor the chameleon investigators.
> We would be significantly *enriched* if either (a) there was more support
> for expert-managed, taxon- or area-specific online resources, or (b) there
> was more support for better data curation at provider level. The marginal
> benefit of feeding either (a) or (b) would be greater than feeding the same
> resources into GBIF. As for GBIF's 'tiny budget', it's E4+ million per
> year, of which ca 1/3 goes to 'management'.
> --
> 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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