US Fish and Wildlife Service provided funding to support a fun clean-up of the occurrence data for minnows (Cyprinidae) from the Colorado River basin. We examined a huge proportion of all specimens of the family ever collected in this drainage with the primary objective of more rigorously assessing the hypothesis that the endangered Sharpnose Shiner (Notropis oxyrhynchus) might be native to the Colorado despite a long history of literature that contends it was introduced there from the adjacent Brazos basin. We focused our efforts on older specimens and turned up some formerly mis-identified specimens and other lines of evidence that strongly support it being native in the Colorado, though unfortunately, it seems likely extirpated there. We feel this product is a great case study that exemplifies the value of museum specimen databases and the specimens themselves. The report and associated data are permanently archived:
And we now note that we have been remiss in not mentioning other recent products here so here they are:
Cohen, Adam E., Dean A. Hendrickson, and F. Douglas Martin. Final Report: Verification of Identifications of Cyprinid Specimens from the Colorado River Basin, Texas. Austin, Texas: University of Texas at Austin, June 5, 2014. 16 pages + online data. http://hdl.handle.net/2152/24627.
Martin, F. Douglas, Adam E. Cohen, Benjamin J. Labay, Melissa Casarez, and Dean A. Hendrickson. 2013. “Persistence of a Landlocked Population of Gulf Pipefish, Syngnathus scovelli.” The Southwestern Naturalist 58(3):378-380. doi: 10.1894/0038-4909-58.3.376
Cohen, Adam E., Ben J. Labay, Dean A. Hendrickson, Melissa Casarez, and Sahotra Sarkar. 2013. Final Report: Data Provision and Projected Impact of Climate Change on Fish Biodiversity within the Desert LCC. Submitted to United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative; Agreement Number: R11AP81527. Austin, Texas: University of Texas at Austin, November 30, 2013. 109 pages + online data. http://hdl.handle.net/2152/22475.
Yesterday we submitted the final report on a project funded by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (via US Fish and Wildllife Service's Section 6 funding). It was quickly approved by both TPWD and USFWS and we then archived it, and all data produced and used in this study, in the University of Texas Digital Repository for permanent public access:
We feel this is a good example of application of our extensive, high quality Fishes of Texas Project data, the Species Distribution Models that we have produced from it, and the power of Conservation Network Planning software. We will be doing more of this in the near future.
We’ve been very busy and have made dramatic improvements in data content and website design resulting in great improvement in overall user experience. On November 14, 2013 our database and website (www.fishesoftexas.org) were updated to reflect those improvements and became version 1.10 of both the Fishes of Texas Project (FoTX) database and website. Users who downloaded data from version 1.00 beta are encouraged to query this new version for updated and new data not formerly available. Read the list of changes below carefully since many are substantial and could affect some users.The data quality is substantially improved in this version, as is site usability and documentation. Both the website and data will continue to evolve, and as we now start to more rigorously track versions of both, we also hope to expand in new directions to better serve our users and broaden the user community.
More and better data: We’ve been working with our data and examining the specimens and have now updated our database to reflect those new discoveries as well as some other issues. Our track 2 data are now available. We are also now beginning to develop non-specimen based data and those are available as well.
Default user privileges have changed: All data are now visible to all users. But registration and login allows users to download data and participate by commenting on our data and providing images.
Web edits and redesign: We’ve made numerous changes to the website that will improve the user experience and the utility of the data provided. Among the noteworthy improvements: expanded our documentation; consolidated our site to 2 servers (from 4); added helpful tooltips; and greatly improved the maps and specimens pages’ presentation of data.
Increased offerings from our digital library: We’ve added thousands of new images.
Improved identification keys: We’ve been developing new keys including some based on character matrices that are extensively illustrated and function in innovative ways unlike traditional dichotomous keys.
Improved species accounts: Our species accounts are greatly improved with text now provided by Dr. Timothy Bonner and colleagues at Texas State University and new dynamic distribution maps.
More research and outreach products: We now provide our Species Distribution Models for many of the state’s species and some of our findings based on the same data that we now make available to the public.
More citizen science opportunities: Users are encouraged to be active participants in improving our data and can now also assist us in georeferencing and by providing data to our growing photo-vouchered database.
We process our data in “batches” that we call “Tracks”. Each Track goes through extensive standardization, normalization and quality checking before addition to the online database. The only data available in the beta version were those in Track 1 (81,243 records). In this version the quality of Track 1 data is improved in many ways, and Track 2 (43,173 records) is made available for the first time (as a separate download, but soon to be added to the main database).
Track 1 data edits new to this version:
Non-specimen-vouchered data (for details see our documentation: Addition of Literature and Other Non-vouchered Data Sources)
Both non-registered and registered users are no longer restricted with regard to what data they can see and can now view all data approved for public distribution by our data donors. Registration and login are still required for downloads and to contribute comments or images, but registration is now immediate (users used to have wait on us to manually process their applications for registration).
We have added lots more images including:
Our previous species accounts had little information content, but are now nearly fully complete for many freshwater species. We are now collaborating with Dr. Timothy Bonner at Texas State University who has provided those accounts.
Our first generation (Class 1) species distribution models (n = 96) are now all available for download and we’ve added a section to our documentation ("Models") that comprehensively explains their creation and how to interpret them. Links to our use of these can also be found there.
We are collaborating with experts around the state to explore application of species distribution models to bioassessment of fish communities. See a summary of a working manuscript HERE.
Beyond our new iNaturalist site where users can submit their own occurrence data with photos, we now provide an easy way for users to assist us with georeferencing. We especially encourage users who may have contributed specimen records included in our database to take a look at how we’ve georeferenced them.
Until now our database site lacked documentation. Though it will still evolve (comments welcome) today we made our extensive documentation maintained in Google Sites public. You're looking at one page of it now. In getting the documentation online, we tried to make navigation between it and the database as easy as possible.
We also linked, from both the documentation and the database, to our test "Sandbox" pages in Scratch Pad, where we are working on new and improved species accounts and where we will also soon publish new drafts of much-improved identification keys. Please have a look.
In summary, the overall project now consists of three separate, but inter-linked websites. The database is hosted on a high-speed database server that excels in providing such data, and our project is integrated into the University of Texas' Supercomputer group's mission to provide high-security and long-term support for such services. Our team finds it much easier to maintain our documentation in Google Sites, where any of us can edit it at any time. Similarly, Scratch Pad's mission, and the services that well supported program provides, give us a comprehensive platform for distributed development (potentially expanding far beyond our immediate team) of improved species account content, keys, bibliography, and much more. Pending continued support for the project we hope to slowly move more content from our current species accounts to here.
On Feb 11, 2011, in the following presentations given at the annual meeting of the Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, we announced availability of the Fishes of Texas version 1.0 beta website serving all data contributed by our own collection, the Texas Natural History Collection at University of Texas. Data from other contributing collections will be added to the data available through the web search engine as permissions are obtained from those institutions. In our presentations we discussed the project's history, content, and evolution, and presented selected research we have done with the data: