I would like to begin a discussion that (hopefully/probably) will bleed over to other list serves. So feel free to broaden the discussion.

ISSUE: Most collecting permits require a report, either at the end of each year or the end of the project, summarizing specimens collected (species names, numbers, localities, etc.). For arthropods, it often takes several years before all the specimens are prepared and identified (especially the by-catch). Ideally, new identifications (and other curation updates) are included in each year's summary report. It is a lot to keep track of and most of us probably don't do a great job (with taxa other than our main target taxon).

SOLUTION: Most large, institutional collections have specimen databases. It will be decades before all of our legacy specimens are captured in online, open-access databases. But new material can (and should) be captured before it even enters the collection. In theory, year-end reports can be produced by a single click of a mouse. The resulting report will include, updated identifications, numbers of specimens, georeferenced localities, loans, etc. I think many of you are already doing this, but with several clicks of the mouse (ie. query relevant data, download, sort, edit, reformat, annotate, print, ...). But if each specimen (or collecting event, lot, ...) is tagged with the permit number, a completely automated annual report should be simple to achieve.

BUY IN: At the simplest level, we each can have our own Report Generator script. However, it would be great to get buy in from various agencies (local, state, federal agencies, conservation trusts, etc.). If we can all agree on the basic information that needs to be reported and a common format, then we would not have to write several personalized scripts and/or do a lot of back-end editing. I can foresee this as a module added to Specify, Arctos, Symbiota, and others (maybe some already have this option?). It would also help museum managers to get associated researchers to better curate their data before depositing specimens (yes, I have ulterior motives).


Peter T Oboyski, PhD
Collections Manager & Curatorial Supervisor
Essig Museum of Entomology
1170 Valley Life Science Building
University of California, Berkeley

mailing address:
1101 VLSB, #4780
Berkeley, CA 94720

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510.643.0804 (office phone)
510.847.0360 (cell phone)