Re, Polychaete databases

JAMES BLAKE jablake at
Mon Nov 20 00:57:31 EST 1995

Dear Annelid Enthusiasts, 

I am glad that my earlier posting resulted in some comment; I have 
achieved my result.

Geoff, it may be Monday morning where you are, but it has been a cold 
rainy Sunday here in Massachusetts.  

Geoff writes:-
>I think (hope) Jim that you'll find the specialist group draws in and
>encourages interaction from people who would otherwise be intimidated 
>and silent in a list with a broader charter. I don't think 'Deepsea' 
>is dead quite yet, but it is a puzzle why it has not been more active. 

You are correct of course, and I expect that this forum will encourage 
many to submit postings on a variety of topics.  What we will find is 
that selected topics will draw considerable comment, others not so 
much.  To this end, I want to comment on Robin Wilson's suggestion 
about databases.

Robin Wilson writes:-
>Many of us are now building databases of taxa and references.  I 
>suggest that it would be very useful if we were to design a form for 
>exchanging data, and to use these forms to post to the list all new 
>taxa and all references in a format that we could all use to import to 
>our own databases.

Geoff Read replies: -
>I would prefer to see it done by means of a World Wide Web form, an 
>example of which is the new PRO form attached to my home page. In 
>theory, if someone was prepared to host the site, you could fill in 
>the form online at the WWW site, and a script would take the 
>information and add it to an online database automatically. 

What Robin and Geoff have done is to describe a database entry method 
of a type that is used routinely by database managers.  In its simplest 
form, it is how you design mailing lists or bibliographies with 
retrieval and search capabilities.  In our laboratory we use another 
form to establish benthic databases with codes and counts which are 
then analyzed with all sorts of statistical procedures.  In another 
form, I believe this is the sort of entry one uses with the DELTA 
software to develop interactive keys. Robin can probably comment more 
on that. 

The problem with all this is that it takes time and effort for someone 
to manage databases regardless of their simplicity or complexity.  
There is also the very important issue of quality control.  You would 
not believe the number of transcription errors that can slip through a 
database unless there is a well designed data validation system in 

It should not be too difficult to come to a consensus on fields for a 
database on polychaete species and literature; software is another 
matter.  Any recommendations?  

Geoff's point that a WWW site would be appropriate still requires 
someone to manage it. 


Jim Blake
ENSR Consulting and Engineering
89 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543
(508) 457-7900..FAX 457-7595
(jablake at

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