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Locality hierarchies, references and procedures

Locality hierarchies, references and procedures

I’m interested in how other collections have dealt with a number of issues involving the standardization of locality data, particularly with regard to older legacy data. I’d appreciate knowing how you would deal with some or all of the following questions:

1. What geographic references do you use to determine the values to be entered in the fields comprising your sites module hierarchies (Continent, Country, State, etc.)?
For example if your original locality data for a specimen from the Grenadines is just “Port Elizabeth, Bequia”, what reference(s) do you consult to determine the values to be entered for island group, country, first administrative subdivision, etc.?

2. Do you consistently follow one such reference for all your locality records, or do you follow particular rules for different regions on a case-by-case basis?

3. How do you deal with geographical versus political hierarchies?
For example, the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN) provides two hierarchies for Port Elizabeth on the island of Bequia:

West Indies (archipelago)
Lesser Antilles (island group)
Windward Islands (island group)
Grenadine Islands (island group)
Bequia (island)
Port Elizabeth (inhabited place)


North and Central America (continent)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (nation)
Saint Vincent Grenadines (island group)
Northern Grenadines (parish (political))
Bequia (island)
Port Elizabeth (inhabited place)

To what degree do you incorporate both these political and geographic elements in your hierarchies?

4. How do you record “higher level” locality fields for sites that politically belong to countries far removed geographically?
For example, Saint Pierre and Miquelon islands (a dependent of France located off Newfoundland), Guam, or Hawaii. Would you populate a “Country” level field for these, and if so, with what value?

5. What do you do in cases of “duplicated data” wherein the same value would appear in two fields if all fields are populated?
For example: Jamaica or Cuba (both nations and islands); Solomon Islands (nation and island group).
Do you populate both fields with the same name? Or leave one field blank (e.g., Jamaica in Country but not Island?)

6. Do you necessarily populate all the fields of your locality hierarchies?
For example would you necessarily record Jamaica as belonging both to a “Continent” and an “Island Group” (or whatever your equivalent fields are called)?

7. How do you accommodate these values in your Summary and/or Extended Data?
Do you include all levels of the hierarchy in your Summary or Extended Data, even if that includes duplicate data from different fields (e.g., Country and Island Name)?

Tom Trombone
Division of Vertebrate Zoology - Ornithology
American Museum of Natural History

Thomas J. Trombone
American Museum of Natural History

Thomas Trombone
Data Manager, Ornithology
54 Posts
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