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ECN-L  June 2008, Week 1

ECN-L June 2008, Week 1

Subject:

Re: Lat/Long Format Question => accuracy

From:

"Huber, John" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Huber, John

Date:

Mon, 2 Jun 2008 16:31:01 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (183 lines)

In the debate about lat. long. much has been said about accuracy and error estimates in obtaining point locations, probably to everyone's benefit and certainly for my edification. Nothing has been said about a much more important and useful bit of information that should accompany any specimen or bulk collection, namely, the habitat or microhabitat it was collected from/in. This is perhaps tangential to the debate and is probably obvious but it needs emphasizing anyway. A word or short phrase (up to 5 words, say) on the specimen(s) label(s) detailing where they were collected is far more useful than a dot on a map. In fact, many dot locations may have become parking lots or soy bean fields since time of collection and so are pretty well useless if one wants to re-collect the same species. In contrast, label information such as "ex. egg of Pieris rapae", "mining red oak leaf", or "deciduous forest" tells present and future workers something far more useful, permitting additional specimens of the same species to be collected from the same microhabitat somewhere near (or not so near) by with much greater ease and certainty. If the choice is between giving lat. long. instead of habitat on a label, to keep the label reasonable in size, the point location can often be fairly well determined from the verbal location (3 km E. of Xanadu, say) if really desired. For species that have been collected from Canada to Argentina but still have no host or habitat recorded, an additional dot on a map doesn't really add much useful information.

John Huber

-----Original Message-----
From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Donat Agosti
Sent: Friday, May 30, 2008 7:29 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Lat/Long Format Question => accuracy


Well, I don't think I am a tech guy in that sense, but rather inbetween
Unless we make use of new technology - the one that offers you better
fieldwork and access to resources, so you can spend more time in the field,
we stay where we are: Obsolete right now. Check the results of the follow-up
meeting of the Conference on Biological Diversity. No taxonomy, and the only
headlines where does making claims they can not base on specimen records
they collected. We are about as far as we were in 1992 at the Rio
Conference, or when Biodiverisy Crisis has been coined in 1986.

Technology offers a lot to improve our work, speed it up if properly used.
At the end, what kills most of the tech initiatives is, that there is no
science question behind. Even those initiative launched with big hype will
not work, until they are part of a science question. And there is the realy
important part dinosaurs play.

If technology is misused, it will kill a lot of time and resources - so
again, you as a dinosaur need to have your hands on its development. I still
have little hope in me, that I haven't lost sight on my taxonomic expertise
and idea to be able to understand global distribution patterns of ants, in
my case, and I am glad that you are even counting yourself - quiet rightly -
into the guild of Dinosaurs despite your relentless effort to build up the
fly name server!

Donat


-----Original Message-----
From: Thompson, Chris [mailto:[log in to unmask]] 
Sent: Friday, May 30, 2008 1:18 PM
To: Donat Agosti; [log in to unmask]
Subject: RE: Lat/Long Format Question => accuracy

Yes, Donat, I am out of mind.

Today there are two minds in biology.

There is one that your and others represent, that of technology. That is
what biology has become, merely an improved algorithm or better device.
Biologists sitting around in the lab declaring that you can track and report
the position of the fly to an exact micron on your lab bench.

Then there is there are the dinosaurs, who still go out into the wild and
look at real flies and see that they fly around. That they go from this
point to that point and then wonder why the precise nature of the point is
so important to biology.

OH, well ...

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., ARS, USDA
c/o Smithsonian Institution MRC-0169
PO Box 37012
Washington, D. C. 20013-7012
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 fax
www.diptera.org Diptera Website
-----Original Message-----
From: Donat Agosti [mailto:[log in to unmask]] 
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2008 4:45 PM
To: Thompson, Chris; [log in to unmask]
Subject: RE: Lat/Long Format Question => accuracy

Chris

Are you completely out of your mind? There are Terabites of remote sensing
data being produced and openly made accessible by NASA and others groups at
at least 30Meter resolution, Google offers even down to a few meters, GPS
allows the security services to decide on which side of a high way you have
your car accident, and you conclude on an anecdotal evidence that discard
all new technology? Not to speak of the billions of dollars spend by your
DOD to produce ever better RS data and technology to win wars in any corner
of the world.

I quiet in the opposite would then argue to toss all the non GPSed records
from digitization projects, data now often used for distribution modeling.
What means one minute in the tropics? On the ground, on minute represents
something like two kilometers, assuming you have the exact point on the
ground. If you are not sure, then very quickly you talk of 10tens of km,
especially when doing retrospective 

Why should a flight trajectory not be part of the habitat of a species? At
least catching a fly there where it does not belong to is an objective
observation and not wishful thinking? May be we can learn something by such
observations?

This my 2p

Donat



-----Original Message-----
From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Thompson, Chris
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2008 7:10 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Lat/Long Format Question => accuracy

From: Thompson, Chris 
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2008 9:38 AM
To: 'Henry Hespenheide'; [log in to unmask]
Subject: RE: Lat/Long Format Question => accuracy

All --

Henry's comments reminds me of two examples:

Years ago when INBio was being set up and standards were being established
for their insect labels, this issue came up. My argument to Dan Janzen was
that we should capture the maximal available data, that is, what you could
read off of your GPS. Dan correctly and briefly dismissed my argument by
saying: "Chris, flies fly and you chase them."

That's Henry's point, but another aspect is ... Some (and once myself) seem
to accept simply was the GPS gives. BUT ... A couple of years ago, I was
giving a workshop at the Universidad de Valle, in Cali, Colombia. The test
the validity of this, I placed my GPS on the window sill of a open window in
the class room, and when we got our coordinates we entered them into Google
Earth. Surprise: we discovered our GPS was way out in the football field.
The parnoid suggested it was the US Military was distorting the signal,
others said it was Google Earth, etc. Who knows?

So, Henry is right, with insects, insect collectors, and GPS, be happy with
degrees and minutes. Any more is suspicious!

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., ARS, USDA
c/o Smithsonian Institution MRC-0169
PO Box 37012
Washington, D. C. 20013-7012
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 fax
www.diptera.org Diptera Website
-----Original Message-----
From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Henry Hespenheide
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2008 2:11 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Lat/Long Format Question

Quoting Alan Mudge <[log in to unmask]>:
> Of these three formats for latitude/longitude coordinates, is one of them
> considered standard for insect labels or is it just a matter of personal
> preference?
>
> degrees, minutes, seconds (7вк 45' 22"N,  77вк 41' 03"W)
>
> degrees, decimal minutes (7вк 45.3667',  77вк 41.0500')


All -

Following up my comments on "false accuracy" of decimalized minutes, I  
checked my US Dept of Interior Geological Survey topographic map (15  
minute series) for the Portal Quadrangle, AZ.

At 109 degrees longitude, one minute = 0.9805 mi.  Thus, in the  
example above, 0.0001 minute = 0.5177 ft. = 15.6 cm.  By the same  
token, a second of longitude = 86.3 feet, or less than 30 m.

A minute at 32 degrees latitude = 1.1439 mi = 6040 feet, and 0.0001  
minute = 0.6040 ft = 18.4 cm; and one second is 100.7 ft, a little  
more than 30 m.

Clearly, given the amount of roaming one does at one site while  
collecting, values of latitude and longitude more accurate than a  
minute or a tenth of a minute are illusory, and even seconds are  
probably too small to reflect reality.  (The same could be said for  
values of altitude given on labels to the nearest foot or meter in  
moutainous terrain.)  The GPS units are more accurate than we are!

Henry Hespenheide

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