I agree with Mike.  A Network, is not a hierarchy.


Professor Andrew V. Z. Brower
Evolution and Ecology Group
Dept. of Biology
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro TN 37132 USA
From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> on behalf of "Michael A. Ivie" <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>
Reply-To: "Michael A. Ivie" <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>
Date: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 12:58 PM
To: "[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>" <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>
Subject: Re: Guidance on digitizing specimens for a project

Dear ECN community,

Perhaps it is time for a history lesson.  Why does ECN exist and are we keeping true?

ECN was founded because the previous structure started getting too "institutional" and unflexible.  It had officers, who once in place wanted multiple terms, that ran things.  They wanted to become important, powerful, represent the community to the outside world, and affiliate the group with others where they would be the representatives. They wanted to host programs similar to what Derek is talking about, and to "run things."  ECN was created in a revolte to escape these tendencies, and in fact was formally free of the ability to be like that for two decades.  More recently, ECN has converged towards the type of organization it was created to escape.  We have by-laws, a bank account, officers serving multiple terms, inter-organizational affiliations created by those officers and represented there by those officers, and now suggestions (not from the officers) for hosting programs.  Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

This is not a reflection on individuals, our officers are nothing like the ones that got a hold of the ESA Standing Committee on Systematic Resources, but neither were the officers of the SCSR before the ones that caused the problem.  At one time that group put well over a hundred people in their meeting rooms, so our current success is no protection from further convergence unless we think about where this is going.  ECN was created to foster interaction within our community, it was never intended to be powerful.


On 9/13/2016 10:51 AM, Derek Sikes wrote:
This is all excellent to hear. A GenBank for specimen data is an idea that needs to be kept alive!

Just to clarify my suggestion regarding SysEB - no physical infrastructure would be needed. Datasets can be uploaded directly from an author's computer into GBIF's servers (as presumably happens with the Canadensys solution). All that should be needed is someone to mediate/help the process (and encourage authors to share their data!)

Very timely information for a paper I'm writing. Thanks Nico & everyone!


On Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 5:23 AM, Norman F. Johnson <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
The xBio:D database at Ohio State has hosted data originating from a large number of other collections for many years now. This began with our taxonomic work: simply stated, almost none of the collections from which the specimens came had a data portal. So we've had to do it ourselves, all the while citing the institution that actually holds the material in question. As an extension, we now also serve as the physical repository for other institutions, a logical extension of the same issue. With the appropriate IPT the role of OSU is (or should be) entirely transparent to a user going through something like GBIF or iDigBio.  This seems to me to be an old issue that has been solved many times.

On the suggested issue of centralization, it seems to me that organizations such as SysEB are not a good choice. It lacks stability in personnel, funds to maintain such an operation, and the physical infrastructure to take on the long-term commitment needed.

Norm Johnson

On 9/13/2016 9:02 AM, Dikow, Torsten wrote:
Hi Nico,

I am publishing material examined lists from taxonomic revisions, with specimens originating from several natural history collections some of which upload their data GBIF and some don’t, through an IPT instance installed at my institution. As you will see (, this GBIF IPT has several data-sets and among them the huge occurrence data-set from the entire NMNH collections.

I try as much as possible to utilize the original institutional unique specimen identifier by asking the curators to send these labels to me before attaching my “personal research identifier” as every single specimen needs to fulfill the Darwin Core Triplet during GBIF validation (institutionCode, collectionCode, unique identifier).

Twelve years back, Rudolf Meier and myself lobbied for a specimen depository from taxonomic revisions similar to GenBank ( I would say that utilizing a GBIF IPT instance at an institutional level fulfills this role and provides data to GBIF, which was originally conceived for natural history collection data only.

Miller et al. 2012 ( promote that publishers might be a better way to provide published specimen occurrence data to GBIF than individual researchers as most taxonomists likely do not want to deal with an extra step of uploading the specimen data through a GBIF IPT. Obviously, journals published by Pensoft do exactly this service (and many others) for the taxonomists.

I will touch on this (and other topics) during my talk at the upcoming ECN meeting.

Cheers, Torsten

Thank you, all.

   Sorry I dropped the ball there for a few days. I received several interesting off-line answers in addition.

   I think I should also try to clarify. First off, for the (some) botanists - in entomology there is much less of a tradition of "creating duplicates" (of purportedly the same individual..thinking about branches of an oak tree here). Insect specimens overwhelmingly remain and travel "entire" (even following dissection). I hope that distinction is fair enough to most.

   Here is the conflict, as simple as I can state it. There is an institution that the specimens ultimately belong to, and that loans them out to a researcher. Then there is a researcher, not affiliated with the institution, who right now has resources and arguably needs to "publish" the specimens via iDigBio, GBIF, etc. (as well as other outlets such as a research journal).

   Let's assume that the owning institution just really does not have the resources right now. Not even to put a locally unique specimen identifier on it (or, it does that, but there is no digital counterpart). And the researcher does. Beyond writing a kind, explanatory e-mail, and figuring things out (idiosyncratically), is there some more widespread accepted practice for resolving this conflict? Answering "I use this or that portal that I happen to have access to and which does it for me", is not really a generally applicable answer, right?

   If not, should we as a community (in our most hopeful moments, anyway) consider creating one or more that are very open for contributions? Something like an open portal for digitizing and iDigBio-/GBIF-publishing research-relevant specimens of/for owner institutions that "just can't right now, sorry".



. . . . .
Torsten Dikow, Ph.D.
Research Entomologist for Diptera
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. . .<>

. . . @TDikow<> #asiloidflies<> #USNMDiptera<>

. . . SI Entomology staff page<>

. . . access to research data at ORCiD

[Ohio State University]
Norman F. Johnson, Professor
Moser Chair in Arthropod Biosystematics & Biological Diversity
Professor & Associate Chair, Department of Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology
Professor, Department of Entomology Director, C.A. Triplehorn Insect Collection
College of Arts & Sciences Department of Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology
1220 Museum of Biological Diversity, 1315 Kinnear Road, Columbus, OH 43212
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Derek S. Sikes, Curator of Insects
Associate Professor of Entomology
University of Alaska Museum
907 Yukon Drive
Fairbanks, AK   99775-6960

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

University of Alaska Museum  -  search 347,746 digitized arthropod records<>

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Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D., F.R.E.S.

NOTE: two addresses with different Zip Codes depending on carriers

US Post Office Address:
Montana Entomology Collection
Marsh Labs, Room 50
PO Box 173145
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717

UPS, FedEx, DHL Address:
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