HerpMapper Announcement

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HerpMapper Announcement

Postby Chris Smith » Tue Dec 23, 2014 12:59 am

Hi all,

HerpMapper (http://www.HerpMapper.org) is a relatively new global herp atlas and data hub project that receives "catch and release" data from herpers, other citizen scientists, and professionals (where data-use practices allow). These data are only viewable to county-level to the public, but HerpMapper does make these data freely available to herpetologists working to conserve and research amphibians and reptiles. All observations include one or more voucher photograph(s) and/or audio recordings.

We already have some participation from Europe, but could certainly use more. We are always looking to improve things, so do not hesitate to send questions, comments, or concerns our way. We are also interested to learn about existing projects that we can partner with. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

For more info checkout our flyer (English, Spanish) and our FAQ Page.

Thank you,
Chris
Christopher.Smith@herpmapper.org
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Re: HerpMapper Announcement

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Wed Dec 24, 2014 10:37 am

How does this (for North America) differ from www.naherp.com?

(BTW, I've moved this post.)
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Re: HerpMapper Announcement

Postby Chris Smith » Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:37 pm

There are 3 main differences between HERP (naherp.com) and HerpMapper. Though it is worth noting that several of the creators of HERP are behind HerpMapper.

1) The biggest difference is data ownership. HerpMapper is granted 'ownership' of data submitted, so that these data can be released to conservation and researchers in a timely manner (even in real-time), and so that data are not lost if a user becomes inactive. Users still have access to their data in HerpMapper, so it is still handy for user data mgmt. With HERP, users retain all rights to their data, and are required to vote on each data request (a process that takes ~ 30 days from start to finish). If users 'disappear' (die, lose interest, etc.), HERP data cannot be released (are 'lost').

Another reason for the change, is that a few HERP users were uploading large quantities of data, but were never releasing it when requests came through. Through discussion with some of these folks, it was discovered that these users were using HERP to conveniently record and store data for their own person use, but never intend to release it to others. This runs counter to the intended purpose of the project.

Overall, the HerpMapper approach allows users to focus on herping and collecting data at their leisure, and uses a group of professionals (peers) to evaluate data releases.

2) Real-time access to data for conservation partners (but HerpMapper also accepts one-time requests). This is huge, and something that folks are already taking advantage of, see: http://www.herpmapper.org/partners

3) Lastly, HerpMapper is a global project.

Sorry for my slow response! Please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns.

Thank you,
Chris
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Re: HerpMapper Announcement

Postby Chris Smith » Sat Jan 17, 2015 10:02 pm

Any other questions about HerpMapper? Any tips or advice for getting more European interest?

Thank you,
Chris
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Re: HerpMapper Announcement

Postby Rémon ter Harmsel » Fri Jan 23, 2015 11:15 am

Hi Chris,

The setup of HerpMapper you describe sound quite similar to the setup of observation.org, which is derived from the Dutch platform waarneming.nl. Are you familiar with observation.org? It can be used worldwide to register every species you see, of every speciesgroup (both flora and fauna).
Waarneming.nl is the biggest data-entry platform in the Netherlands, with over 33 million records (http://waarneming.nl/statistiek.php). Observation.org is currently at about 10 million, see http://observation.org/info.php and http://observation.org/statistiek.php
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Re: HerpMapper Announcement

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:09 pm

I have similar thoughts - there's already so many platforms that adding to another one takes too much time, I'm afraid... I might be a sloppy reader, but I don't see the added value. I'd rather contribute my data from outside my own country but inside Europe to national atlas programs, because that assures use where they are needed straightaway.
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Re: HerpMapper Announcement

Postby Chris Smith » Mon Jan 26, 2015 10:54 pm

Thanks all. We will be sure to checkout the sites. HerpMapper isn't looking to supplant existing projects that are being successful, but hopes to provide a powerful tool for herpers in areas lacking this sort of data collection project while making high-quality data available to the conservation organizations that need it to protect the critters we are all passionate about.

A couple notable things...

1) HerpMapper requires a voucher (photo or audio) - some of the projects mentioned do not. This ensures highest-quality data are available to conservations orgs.

2) HerpMapper does NOT provide point-location data to the public because of over-collection and poaching concerns. The Obs.org site doesn't have much herp participation, likely for this reason (HerpMapper as nearly the same # of obs and is only ~ 1 yr old).

3) Our mobile app makes in-the-field data collection extremely quick and easy, and even works in areas without cellular connection.

4) Data are provided to conservation and research partners in real-time.


Thanks again for the input!

Cheers,
Chris
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Re: HerpMapper Announcement

Postby Chris Smith » Mon Jan 26, 2015 11:01 pm

Jeroen,

Can you provide links to national atlas programs? We want to make sure these existing projects get access to HerpMapper data too.

Thanks,
Chris
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Re: HerpMapper Announcement

Postby Rémon ter Harmsel » Tue Jan 27, 2015 9:36 am

Hi Chris,

I admire idea behind the project, but I still think setups of herpmapper and at least observado (and possibly others) are almost similar, see below.

Chris Smith wrote:1) HerpMapper requires a voucher (photo or audio) - some of the projects mentioned do not. This ensures highest-quality data are available to conservations orgs.


Observado requires the same for validation purposes, but observations can still be submitted without. Validation can also be done based on accurate descriptions for example.

Chris Smith wrote:2) HerpMapper does NOT provide point-location data to the public because of over-collection and poaching concerns. The Obs.org site doesn't have much herp participation, likely for this reason (HerpMapper as nearly the same # of obs and is only ~ 1 yr old).


All observations in observado can be submitted without showing the point-location, depending on preference of the submitting person. Species in need of protection (for the same reason you mention) can be automatically 'hidden by admins', as is for example the case for several herp-species in the Netherlands on waarneming.nl.
T.b.h. I think participation is mainly depending on interest (however growing), not so much on fear of over-collection and poaching (but I could be wrong).

Chris Smith wrote:3) Our mobile app makes in-the-field data collection extremely quick and easy, and even works in areas without cellular connection.


Same in observado.

Chris Smith wrote:4) Data are provided to conservation and research partners in real-time.


Same in at least the Dutch platform for all species groups, contributing by far the most data to partners than any other source.

Personally I would rather see all platforms combined to just 1 world-wide platform with regional moderators taking care of validation and implementing certain protective measures (hiding specific species, etc).

On a side-note, makes me wonder; do members of this forum share their data anywhere in a certain platform?
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Re: HerpMapper Announcement

Postby Chris Smith » Wed Jan 28, 2015 4:24 am

Observado requires the same for validation purposes, but observations can still be submitted without. Validation can also be done based on accurate descriptions for example.


After much discussion amongst data users, HerpMapper has chosen to require vouchers (images / audio) as many data users do not want data without a voucher, and these voucherless data become superfluous data in the database. In our technological era, this isn't too much to ask in our opinion. As many herpers know, eye-witness information can be very unreliable, especially for reports by non-herpers.

ll observations in observado can be submitted without showing the point-location, depending on preference of the submitting person. Species in need of protection (for the same reason you mention) can be automatically 'hidden by admins', as is for example the case for several herp-species in the Netherlands on waarneming.nl.
T.b.h. I think participation is mainly depending on interest (however growing), not so much on fear of over-collection and poaching (but I could be wrong).


Again after much discussion, and years of experience, HerpMapper has decided it best to hide all point-location information from the general public. It doesn't take a 'rocket scientist' to deduce that observation hotspots for common species resulting from repeated visits that were enter by a known herper is likely indicative of something less common in the area (hence the repeated visits). These geographical and spatial herping patterns can be used to exploit herps (this has unfortunately occurred here in the US and in Canada).


Personally I would rather see all platforms combined to just 1 world-wide platform with regional moderators taking care of validation and implementing certain protective measures (hiding specific species, etc).


This is the goal of HerpMapper in regards to its use as a data hub for herp data (similar to HerpNet / VertNet for museum data). We feel strongly that none of the current online database projects that incorporate all taxa do a good job for all taxa (jack of all trades, experts at none). We have tried to work through some of the issues associated with herp data with some of these (but not all), and have had little success. Hopefully someday we can see a truly united project that adequately addresses taxa-specific issues.

I really appreciate the feedback thus far, and encourage you to checkout HerpMapper as time allows, and send along any additional questions, comments, or concerns. I can be reached directly at the address below.

Thanks,
Chris
---
Christopher E. Smith, M.Sc., AWB®
HerpMapper - A Global Herp Atlas and Data Hub
Christopher.Smith@herpmapper.org
www.herpmapper.org
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