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Latitude and Longitude recording

Latitude and Longitude recording

Latitude and Longitude has become very easy to include with field data.  Which means (in some departments) almost every specimen has its own unique latitude and longitude, but the rest of the "site" information is identical/generic.  Are many of you placing Latitude and Longitude in ecatalogue or do you create a new site for each specimen with a different latitude and longitude?  What other approaches have you taken?  Thanks.

Bill Mertz
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Re: Latitude and Longitude recording

Hi Bill,

For what it's worth, we create a new site record for every new combination of coordinate data (or new value of elevation.) At least in my department, we don't see *too* many records with the exact same locality text but different coordinate data.

Tom Trombone
AMNH Ornithology

Thomas Trombone
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Re: Latitude and Longitude recording

Thank you for the reply.  It's good to know your pattern is common.  It is also the way most of our departments handle site data. We do have a department that has no site data except coordinates, so we've placed it in ecatalogue for them.  But I'm debating the idea of splitting coordinates from esites if esites also has data.

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Re: Latitude and Longitude recording

Hi all

None of you mentions the Collecting Events module.

Do you not use it, and if not, why not?  And have you encountered any issues as a result?

Thanks very much, Mike

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Re: Latitude and Longitude recording

Hi Mike,

At AMNH we use a "flattened" model wherein the Collecting Events and Sites modules were collapsed into a single module containing all locality-related information. (The backend name of this module is still ecollectionevents but its on-screen name appears as "Localities"; basically, we simply suppressed the esites module.) In my department (Ornithology) a Localities record contains only locality information, while the collector and collecting-date are recorded in the Catalog records. By contracts our Ichthyology department stores collector and collecting-date in the Localities record. Either way, though, only two modules are involved: Catalog and Localities.

We opted to take this approach when we adopted EMu because we felt this flattened approach more closely reflected how we thought about our specimen data. The idea of a "collecting event" layer in between catalog records and site records seemed an unnecessary complication, even if it would have provided a greater degree of normalization. Not saying we were right or wrong (or even necessarily took the best approach in hindsight); that's simply the history of our development.

Best,
Tom Trombone
AMNH Ornithology

Thomas Trombone
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Re: Latitude and Longitude recording

Mike,

We tested Collection Events with entomology and found it was unwieldy for the amount of data we inserted in the module.  Other departments dismissed Collection Events immediately because it didn't add enough to warrant the increased data input complexity.  In most cases (mammalogy, ornithology, entomology, etc) we've placed collector and date collected information in the catalog module (as Tom has with Ornithology).  However, we use esites for the remaining locality data, and ignore ecollectionevents.  Our reason is chiefly to make EMu as easy as possible to learn and use. In fact, esites' Precise Location is sometimes placed in catalog, which makes esites more akin to a gazetteer. On the other hand, in the case of marine invertebrates the sites module holds most of the information except specimen identification.

My query was to discover if other institutions were using the catalog module (or other method) to hold their latitude and longitude since the capture of such data is now fairly precise and common and is often attached to individuals. In the past Lat/Lon was a rough estimate and it made sense to drop a "center point" in a large geographic location.  But now specimens come in from a single "site" but each individual has its own lat/lon.

Thanks for the interest.  It helps me work through the options.

Bill


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Re: Latitude and Longitude recording

Thanks for your replies.

The only serious benefits, imo, of the collection event (apart from better normalisation of course) are the historical and collecting contexts it provides.

For example - all the specimens from the Challenger expedition, or all the insects collected in the same light-trap as this one (perhaps not very applicable to ornithology but relevant for entom and some zoo collections).

How do you deal with these, or are they considered less important?

Thanks again, Mike

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Re: Latitude and Longitude recording

Mike,

Your opinion is correct, as far as Entomology goes.  And the normalisation is beneficial if staff follow the correct procedures. Unfortunately, our data is mostly legacy from old databases, and the only trap information collected was "type of trap".  So "malaise trap" from a particular site could be any of a number of different malaise traps. Clumping them in a collection event gives the false impression they were collected in the same trap (maybe they were). Therefore, to acquire a list of specimens collected together we merely run a search on date and trap and locality.

New data may include trap IDs which helps clarify whether the specimens really were found in the same trap. So "Malaise Trap 313" on September 1, 2014 will give us the same results as a collection event.  Again, it was a choice we made to make data entry much easier for staff even though we lose a little on normalisation.  And to be honest, no one has ever requested that kind of trap report.

Bill

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