CATE data acquisition

The national UK fungal records database of the ABFG

CATE data acquisition

Postby admin » Sun May 31, 2009 10:10 am

The acquisition of fungal data to the CATE system is now running at over 11,000 records per month with the combined total having reached just short of 200,000 and the 1/4 million mark is firmly in sight, so the news is positive on many fronts. Since the start of 2009 the system has acquired substantial datasets from Cornwall, Devon, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Suffolk and north Essex.

But CATE is now in a slightly frustrating half-way house. It has received widespread acceptance as a modern and highly efficient data system for fungi but has some way to go to amass a sufficiently comprehensive amount of data to be able to work on essential projects like Red Data and BAP lists for which it was designed and for which much of the investment of nearly £20,000 was made. The only effective way of analysing the vast amount of data now collected in the UK is with an IT system capable of doing so. Attempting it manually is a waste of effort.

One or two members of the Forum may be aware that the BMS President, Lynne Boddy, announced to the Fungus Conservation Forum meeting in March that the Red Data project begun 15 years ago has run out of steam. The suggestion is that a line should be drawn under it with a proposed fresh start at sometime using 'redesigned criteria'. Many field mycologists will perhaps receive this information with a degree of despair since the Red Data list has been promised year on year since before 2000, and the only visible outcome in 2005 has been a 'Preliminary Assessment' that the Joint Nature Conservation Committee was unwilling to accept as an official document without considerably more work being done on it.

Much of the remarkable expansion of CATE has been down to word-of-mouth recommendation both for the online system and for the recording package, which is far in advance of anything else available, but we need to keep the momentum going. Spread the word!

MJ
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Re: CATE data acquisition

Postby David Edington » Sun May 31, 2009 2:13 pm

Regardless of allegiance or membership, I feel that the current BMS survey is an opportunity for all the field community to express their frustration with the BMS on failing to provide an adequate solution or compromise; knowing full well that ABFG has developed a modern IT system capable of analysis in accordance with whatever criteria various conservation projects may establish. (see Topic: viewtopic.php?f=2&p=197#p197 )

In the meantime I urge all ABFG members to continue to support and recommend CATE as best they can when involved in field activities with whoever or in the course of internet discussion.

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Re: CATE data acquisition

Postby admin » Sun Feb 21, 2010 4:53 pm

Looking back, at the beginning of June 2009 CATE had received approximately 200,000 UK fungal records and had been receiving data a rate of about 11,000 records a month.

Update: By mid-February 2010, the total has reached almost 400,000 with a current rate of uptake well in excess of 20,000 per month.

Brilliant progress, and sincere thanks to all those recorders who have delivered, and are delivering data. We are clearly on course to pass the first 1/2 million mark by this autumn and we are already able to generate authoritative checklists and Important Fungus Areas maps (IFAs) for many counties. Keep up the good work!

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Re: CATE data acquisition

Postby admin » Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:17 am

A moment to re-stress the importance of getting data, whether on provisional Red Data species, BAP species, or just plain common-or-garden species, into CATE. There are some daft blockages. The ABFG, for example, invested in the online BAP information sheets in 2006, but we still cannot complete those dossiers because a number of recorders and groups are not passing across their data. Bear in mind that data on places and grid refs is only available to people registered for full access to CATE.

CATE is a formidable system. It is far in advance of any other UK mycological data system, and if we are to move ahead on some of these vital conservation projects that have consistently failed for a number of reasons in the past, not least of them a poor system of data management, CATE is unquestionably the most effective machinery with which to do it, and suggestions of copying CATE for the sake of political rivalry really are, I am tempted to say, best confined to the loony bin.

There is a frustration, not merely over the now quite isolated remaining entrenched groups whose attitude is 'Why should I help the ABFG - it ain't my gang?'' but with some individual recorders who could be doing so much to help to conservation effort, if they were sufficiently motivated to get their records across, and this perhaps is a failure on the part of ABFG management to get the message across well enough.

In North Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire, David Dell has achieved a fantastic input of over 40,000 vital records to CATE, but 20 miles down the road, the Hants Fungus Group, operating in the south of the county, steadfastly contributes nothing because of futile politics!

CATE represents the future of mycological data management, of this there is now little doubt in the minds of much of the field community. The CATE database will have passed the first half million record milestone by September (it has recently passed 400,000) and is taking in data at a rate of over 50,000 records/month. But we can't really put it to the use for which it is designed until those remaining pockets join in.

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Re: CATE data acquisition

Postby admin » Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:27 am

The CATE dataset has now comfortably passed half a million post-1960 records with the recent addition of major input from Pembrokeshire and Lincolnshire. In May 2009 acquisition was running at about 11,000 records/month. Since then the average monthly uptake has doubled to 22,000 records. The whole system is currently undergoing a radical overhaul to standardise some of the terminology, and to incorporate the online recording. The task now is to encourage those remaining pockets of resistance to copy data into CATE. The blank spots on the map are becoming more isolated, but unless we fill them, the dataset remains of limited use in terms of UK mapping for conservation purposes.

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Re: CATE data acquisition

Postby admin » Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:24 pm

The new online CATE recording modules will soon be ready for 'testing to destruction'. The facility is brilliant in its design, thanks to Geoff Hammond and the IT team, and is fully state-of-the-art, but it needs to be tested in everyday practice. If anyone would like to volunteer to start entering records to the CATE online programme, please let me know because in order for me to sign you up you will need a registration log-in. Your data, by the way, will be quite safe and confidential until it is transferred to the actual CATE database, and can be downloaded as an Excel/Access/csv file at any time.

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