Final Completed Georeferences for HerpNET - September 2008, color-coded by institution.



HerpNET Final Report Highlights


Georeferencing: In total, for both the NSF and GBIF funded portions of HerpNET, we georeferenced 645,669 localities, for 1,799,255 cataloged specimens. During the NSF-funded portion of the HerpNET project, participants collaboratively georeferenced 369,634 localities that represent 1,523,220 cataloged specimens. The original HerpNET gazetteer constructed in Fall 2003 consisted of 3.4 million cataloged records and 537,813 unique localities to be georeferenced.

As of August 2007, 75,029 records were georeferenced and validated for HerpNET. Subsequently, 294,605 additional records have been completed and validated since January 2008. These unique localities represent over 1.5 million cataloged records from every continent except Antarctica; each is georeferenced and validated. All georeferenced localities were validated by Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ) HerpNET staff to ascertain whether they were complete and whether they matched the administrative boundaries (County, State, Country) of the original locality. We made corrections or added notes regarding administrative boundary or database problems.

These data are being returned to the participating museums. We georeferenced 69% of the total number of unique localities for all institutions and 44% of the original number of cataloged records. Thus, although we received but 50% of requested funding from NSF, we completed georeferencing of almost 70% of all localities.

A total of 58 countries around the world and 46 U.S. states was georeferenced and validated. Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Alabama were not georeferenced, nor are parts of Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, and Florida. We completed 71% (304,100 localities) of the North American localities, and 69% of all records for the project.

Cost to georeference: The cost to georeference per locality varied between $0.36 and $22.05 USD (including salaries and benefits), with an average of $1.83 per locality, equating to $0.44 per cataloged specimen. The reasons for this wide variance in costs differ by institution. For example, some institutions paid more than $10/hour for post-doctorate researchers to georeference, which resulted in higher quality that required less validation. Other institutions had high costs per georeference because they had claimed large regions, but only finished a few sites, either because they lost the files or they declined to release all the georeferences to HerpNET despite expectations. Some institutions that finished large amount of georeferences very inexpensively (<$.40 per locality) did not calculate maximum error, thereby producing georeferences that were not done according to MaNIS/HerpNET/ORNIS standards.

None of the costs associated with validation was originally funded under the original NSF grant, nor is this cost calculated in the rates listed above.

Participants: The HerpNET project began in 2003 with 36 institutions. Currently there are 66 participating institutions, with 54 on the portal and 12 waiting to be installed. Sixteen more institutions have been identified as possible participants and we are awaiting correspondence about their interest.

Undergraduate and Biodiversity Training: MVZ has trained and employed 54 undergraduates, volunteers, and staff members in georeferencing and principles of biodiversity informatics. Another 57 georeferencers (including curators, staff, undergraduates, post-doctorates and graduate students) were trained by staff at other participating institutions. In summary, more than 39 institutions participated in georeferencing for both the NSF and GBIF-funded portions of the projects. UCB Undergraduate Lillian Chan completed an REU project at MVZ entitled "An efficiency comparison between the BioGeomancer Workbench and manual methods in georeferencing natural history communities." The results showed that it took significantly longer to georeference similar localities with manual methods vs. BioGeomancer (about twice as long) and that georeferencers with more experience took longer to georeference.

Georeferencing Workshops and Outreach: The HerpNET Coordinator and staff designed the georeferencing training workshop agenda, training materials, exercises and online documentation that are widely used. HerpNET staff have hosted 12 workshops in 5 countries for 157 institutions, training a total of 277 people.

Technologies: GBIF and NSF-funded programmers made a prototype cache so that select HerpNET data providers can be mapped dynamically on AmphibiaWeb (on species account web pages). We installed TAPIR (TDWG Access Protocol for Information Retrieval) providers at 24 institutions in addition to 54 DiGIR providers. TAPIR accommodates more types of data formats and generates better usage reports than DiGIR. VertNET and other biodiversity initiatives will transition from DiGIR providers to TAPIR servers in the near future.

Acknowledgments: Many thanks from the HerpNET Principal Investigators Trueb and Wake and Coordinator Spencer to the following: Heather Constable for expert georeferencing, validation and coordination of volunteers, Michelle Koo for the maps, figures, and validation assistance, Philip Goldstein for programming and construction of the repatriation files, John Wieczorek for providing us much needed time regarding georeferencing, gazetteer production, server installations and providing a blueprint to follow with MaNIS, and special thanks to all of the staff, participants and students of multiple institutions who worked hard and volunteered so much time to this project. Our success is a testament to everyone's combined hard work and dedication.


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Updated CL Spencer 3 April 2009