Thanks to everyone who replied to this query on & off list.

Some of us report just records and others specimens.

My conclusion is that we should report both, as best as possible, and take the time to explain what we mean by 'record' since it means different things depending on which database one is using.

Interestingly, when I spoke with an arachnologist and an ichthyologist, who store ALL their specimens in lots, they said their community traditionally reports a count of lots, which is equal to the record count in their database. They don't report specimen counts.

-Derek



On Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 7:52 PM, Derek Sikes <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
All,

Odd that I've been databasing specimens for this long without me bringing this up formally but the term 'specimens' for an insect collection is confusing with regards to counting 'specimens.' I briefly mentioned this in my ECN talk in Portland and noted some confusion on this issue afterwards.

Most of us database specimens and report a count of records. But this count is only a specimen count if one has no 'lots', ie vials with more than one specimen in each.

In the UAM Insect Collection we currently have 213,657 database records but many of these are of vials that contain many specimens. So for example, 1 vial might have 1 or more specimens. If we count all the actual specimens, it's over 1.1 million! (1,165,301 to be exact).

So far, in all reports, communications, etc, I've been using the smaller value of 'records' in the database but now I've begun to wonder why and what the community is doing / thinking about this?

On the one hand, when it comes to databasing effort, reporting records is a good metric. Databasing a vial of spiders is no more difficult than databasing a pinned beetle.

But on the other hand, when it comes to reporting the effort spent on building the collection itself - sorting, identification, etc. clearly there is a lot more effort spent on collecting, sorting & identifying 200 spiders that result in 10 vials than there is on 10 pinned beetles!

All the aggregators like GBIF and iDigBio count records. Records downloaded, etc.

The only way I can easily access the actual total specimen count for my own database is to download a search of all specimens' part lot counts and then use excel to sum these counts. This information is pretty well hidden.

Our database, Arctos, uses the term 'specimens' incorrectly everywhere - a result of 10 records is called '10 specimens' even though there may be 500 specimens involved in those 10 records.

I'm thinking that we should push to be more explicit in separating these terms (specimens vs records). They are not synonyms. I'm wondering what others think.

-Derek

--

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Derek S. Sikes, Curator of Insects
Associate Professor of Entomology
University of Alaska Museum
907 Yukon Drive
Fairbanks, AK   99775-6960

[log in to unmask]

phone: 907-474-6278
FAX: 907-474-5469

University of Alaska Museum  -  search 265,000 digitized arthropod records
http://www.uaf.edu/museum/collections/ento/
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Interested in Alaskan Entomology? Join the Alaska Entomological
Society and / or sign up for the email listserv "Alaska Entomological Network" at
http://www.akentsoc.org/contact.php


--

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Derek S. Sikes, Curator of Insects
Associate Professor of Entomology
University of Alaska Museum
907 Yukon Drive
Fairbanks, AK   99775-6960

[log in to unmask]

phone: 907-474-6278
FAX: 907-474-5469

University of Alaska Museum  -  search 265,000 digitized arthropod records
http://www.uaf.edu/museum/collections/ento/
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Interested in Alaskan Entomology? Join the Alaska Entomological
Society and / or sign up for the email listserv "Alaska Entomological Network" at
http://www.akentsoc.org/contact.php