Data Sources

The national UK fungal records database of the ABFG

Data Sources

Postby Roy Miller » Tue Jun 16, 2009 1:39 pm

A few questions, that I am sure forayers have often wondered about:-

    What exactly are the databases that CATE is populated with?
    How often will data be migrated from the other databases, or is it a live link between the relevant databases?
    What avenues are available (or will be available) to submit 'finds' data, and what are the contacts and mechanisms involved?
Thanks
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Re: Data Sources

Postby admin » Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:35 pm

Roy

CATE is a national mycological database (one of two in the UK) and was launched in January 2008 after an intensive 2 year development period. It is probably unique in the sense that it represents a complete data system, not just a database. So its components include a recording package, the online database, the administration system that runs in tandem behind the scenes, and the online analysis function. The last element is second to none in terms of what it can provide for a user who has obtained registration and this is probably one reason why it has amassed such a massive data input so quickly.

CATE is made up of a large number of separate datasets, which at the moment are coming in at a rate of about 10,000 records/month and which become amalgamated into a single dataset in CATE. These are both new seasonal sets and old historical sets. They are generated by local recording groups and by individual recorders as well as historical sets submitted by local record centres etc. etc.

The recording package is now used by an increasing number of recorders because of its remarkable ease of use and the fact that it delivers accurate recording (as distinct from accurate determination which no data system can guarantee). Records can be sent in in very small quantities. It has received a set as little as 10 on more than one occasion. Records can also come in in very large sets - the largest thus far being about 50,000 records.

CATE is not yet accessible via the NBN Gateway but this is not crucial at the moment because it was designed in collaboration with NBN, and the ABFG online facility actually provides easier access for the individual user.

I'm not sure if this answers your question but do come back if not?

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Re: Data Sources

Postby admin » Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:48 pm

Roy

I didn't really answer the last aspect of your post. Any ABFG member or member group, or a separate biological records centre, may deliver records into CATE. You simply need to apply to me at ABFG. All we ask of you is that you compile new records via the recording package because it eliminates a lot of 'cleaning' at this end and, once a recorder has the hang of the system they can then upload their own records directly and, if strictly necessary, do minimal editing online. Each recorder or BRC delivering into CATE becomes eligible for registration, meaning that they then gain access to the full functionality and to all restricted data, subject to completing a Standard Disclosure Agreement.

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Re: Data Sources

Postby Mal Greaves » Fri Aug 20, 2010 9:25 am

Has any progress been made on making the CATE records available through the NBN Gateway?

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Re: Data Sources

Postby admin » Fri Aug 20, 2010 10:01 am

There is correspondence going on at the moment with the Directors of the NBN Trust about this and a meeting is due to be scheduled shortly. There are also aspects that I think need to be explained more fully.

Unlike 99% of online biological datasets, CATE is an analytical tool with a considerably more advanced technical capacity than can be found on the NBN Gateway. In short to make proper use of it, users need to access the database directly via their ABFG login, The NBN Gateway was originally created to make available and coordinate datasets that were otherwise not readily available. This is not strictly applicable to CATE. We still have to resolve issues of access levels, but there are no sinister implications over the fact that the set is still not accessible through the Gateway. In the interim any researcher or conservation agency needing to access the facility for bona fide reasons can do so.

It's worth mentioning that registration on the Gateway does not amount to some measure of 'official accreditation'. Occasionally I hear people say that if it isn't on the Gateway, it is probably unreliable.
Very illogical! CATE is, I suspect, the most accurately cleaned fungal dataset that we currently have in the UK.

If CATE was not available online, with the advanced capability that it possesses, there would be reasonable ground for complaint about the current absence from the Gateway link. But this is not the case.

The dataset is also acquiring records at a fairly rapid pace, averaging 25,000 per month, and this is probably the strongest endorsement of its quality and efficacy. I think if recorders and recording groups had any serious doubts about CATE's conservation value, they would not continue to deliver data.

The team has just added the 2 latest county datasets from Pembrokeshire and Lincolnshire, and in some respects has its hands full in keeping this level of influx properly processed. We are also about to run a major overhaul of the mechanics of the system at the server end, and this again tends to be a priority focus.

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