Submitting photo-records to Odonata Central
- There are three excellent articles in the December 2011 issue of Argia, by Paulson, Lund, and Abbott, that all point out the value to the odonate community in documenting photo-records and independently-verified preserved specimen records in the OdonataCentral (OC) database. I recommend reading these articles, but some important points that I got that seem worth repeating here are:
1. Personal and state websites that document odonate distribution records are great. However, OC has the potential advantage of being an archive for ALL distribution and flight date information available for a species (at least in the New World) in one easy-to-search place. And since digital photos can be "deposited" in any number of different locations, there really is no good reason for not cataloguing your photo-records at OC in addition to other websites.
2. An under-used aspect of OC is the ability of a user to submit a record based on a preserved specimen (not a photo) or a literature record of a species from a state or county where it might not be otherwise documented in the OC database. Confirming such a record might be problematic if no photo is provided, but if the specimen has been examined and confirmed by a recognized expert, it will likely be accepted at OC. (Sight records will still be "unconfirmed".) This is an excellent way to merge information from personal collections and obscure literature reports with photo-records from your region of interest.
3. The Dot Map Project (DMP) county-level records are a good resource but were really a "coarse scale" first step in assembling detailed information on the distribution of odonates. Unfortunately there is no way for the user of a DMP record to independently verify the reliability of the report/specimen(s) on which the county record was based. If you have photo-records for counties that already have a DMP record, you should still submit them to OC. This is especially needed where the DMP record for a species/county might seem dubious.
4. The OC database is a community resource and depends on input from the odonate community to make it useful. Submitting records might seem tedious, but it is nevertheless a necessary part of making this resource as informative as it can be. Now that the odonate season is over for the year, this is an excellent time to assemble your photo-records from the summer and get them into the OC database.
P.S. One other small thing I'll add: when submitting records to OC, decimal-degrees are required for lat-long coordinates. Decimal-degrees are not the same as degrees-minutes or degrees-minutes-seconds, which is what your GPS might provide (you have to divide your minutes by 60 to get the decimal fraction of the degrees in decimal-degrees). Unfortunately a number of OC records have erroneous lat-long data based on degrees-minutes.
James N. Stuart
jnstuart61 AT yahoo.com
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