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 Post subject: How to Get & Enter Massive Quantities of Data
PostPosted: November 7th, 2013, 3:58 pm 
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"How to Get & Enter Massive Quantities of Data" or "Tips and Items to help Enter Data accurately and quickly"...with more of it:

This post is the main part of the advice I gave in my earlier post. I decided to place it in it's own post and add to it as I have time. The purpose of this information is to help you find and photograph more entries for the http://www.naherp.com database. Many people contribute to the database on a sporadic level, either due to lack of time or a lack of ideas for finding more herps to enter. It is my hope to help some of those people discover new ways to accomplish more, as well as to understand all the benefits the database has to offer the individual contributor.

1st, whether you travel or not, you can still fill in a lot of gaps in the database. The trick is to NOT go to the same places over and over. Go to different places, even if it's just to voucher tons of fence lizards. However, once you've photographed every fence lizard or every slender salamander at a site, don't go there again. Here's an example from a few alleys here in Tempe. These are tree lizards:

Image

I have not been back to those alleys since I recorded those lizards. They weren't all the lizards I saw, but enough to establish that there are a lot of them in the alleys.

2nd, Use google earth to map out places to search. Place the yellow pins at ponds, creek crossings, board spots, etc. and hit them in an organized way. If you don't know how to place a pin, look at the top of the google earth screen and find the pin.

Here's an example of an area in CA where I've marked and labled pond and creek crossings to look for pond turtles. I kept the image out of focus to keep the area unrecognizable:

Image

If you want to record turtles and garter snakes, just do this and go to each place systematically. If you don't see anything on the first try, go again on a different day or at a different time. This method works really well in the Midwest where counties are small and ponds are numerous. Almost every pond in the Midwest will have painted turtles, bullfrogs, leopard frogs and cricket frogs. They might also have snapping turtles, water snakes, garter snakes, and soft-shelled turtles. These are the EASY pickens. It's really no mystery why I have 1,188 county records. Use Binoculars to see the animals before they see you, DON'T just go blundering down to the water or you'll scare 90% of them away immediately. Be stealthy.

Here's a typical pond in Nebraska and where the critters usually hang out:

Image

If you live in an area of North America where many counties are still un-recorded, mark those counties on a road map of your state or province and systematically go to them and look for ponds. Fundad showed me that trick and I've now visited 176 new counties and recorded stuff from each. In the Midwest, I search google earth for 4 or 5 ponds in each county and then look for the big 4 - painted turtles, bullfrogs, leopard frogs and cricket frogs. Anything else in that county is gravy. I usually find the big 4 at the first pond, but sometimes I have to try 3 or 4 before getting them all. There is one county in Nebraska where I still haven't seen a painted turtle after 3 visits. I want to find that damn turtle because it would be an official county record for Herp Review. I need to mark more ponds there.

The point of all this is MAPPING. Map your target areas and record the species all over the place, not just the cool species or the ones you like. Photograph everything you see wherever you go. Digital film is free. Systematically target species and habitat in your own county and when you finish that move to the surrounding counties. You will have thousands of records before you even get out of your own county. Don't overlook urban areas. Lot's of lizards live in front yards in housing tracts. Now, having said all that, don't think that you are limited to my strategic approach. Herping should be fun, so do what you want if this system doesn't appeal to you.

3rd, Snakes. Watch for DORs everywhere you go. Stop and take a picture. Enter it.
If you have board sites, photograph every snake you see at them. Keep a separate file of pics of the snakes you see (not ring-necks or sharp-tails-only record them on the first visit because you can't tell them apart). Each time you visit the site, photo all the snakes again and compare the pics to see if you found anything new. Enter the new snakes in new entries, and put the new photo of the old snakes in the original entry with a note of when it was seen again. See record #96123 for an example of how to do this:

http://www.naherp.com/viewrecord.php?r_id=96123

I have made lists of band counts for the kingsnakes I see at several of my sites. This one is #14 out of 47 kings at this field. It's count is 5-Y-11-1. It usually only takes 4 groups of bands from the head to separate any king from another.

If you search rocks, follow the same plan for rosys and rubers and anything else. Just about any snake can be differentiated from others if you take good photos. the rule for lizards also applies to board and rock sites...only record them once on the first visit because you can't tell them apart. However, juveniles (YOY) can be recorded every year at the same places.

As you begin to amass a lot of records, you can load them into your google earth from the database (My records in google earth function) and see where you've been. Mine looked like this as of Nov 2014:

Image

Any questions so far?


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 Post subject: Re: How to Get & Enter Massive Quantities of Data
PostPosted: November 9th, 2013, 8:07 pm 
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Pic added...


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 Post subject: Re: How to Get & Enter Massive Quantities of Data
PostPosted: November 9th, 2013, 10:06 pm 
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Location: Rancho Cucamonga, Ca
I am gonna take these tactics and apply them to slender salamanders in the next month and a half so that I can take you down. :twisted: haha but seriously I am gonna try to find new spots for slender salamanders, and ensatinas in the places no one else is looking for them apparently :beer: :thumb:


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 Post subject: Re: How to Get & Enter Massive Quantities of Data
PostPosted: November 9th, 2013, 11:28 pm 
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Quote:
I am gonna take these tactics and apply them to slender salamanders in the next month and a half so that I can take you down.


Hmmm...well, I wish you luck with that...but seriously, if these tactical maneuvers can help you enter more data I'm all for it. Set a goal, work your plan, and kick my ass... :lol: I'm tired of being at the top all by myself. :o I need competition to motivate me to outdo myself.


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 Post subject: Re: How to Get & Enter Massive Quantities of Data
PostPosted: November 15th, 2013, 12:38 pm 
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Bump!


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 Post subject: Re: How to Get & Enter Massive Quantities of Data
PostPosted: November 16th, 2013, 7:09 am 
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:roll: Some of us have to work 5 days a week 40+ hours a week for a living Mr Hubbs. :lol:

I think you should re-title this thread.


Tips and Items to help Enter Data accurately and quickly (or something like that).

Fundad


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 Post subject: Re: How to Get & Enter Massive Quantities of Data
PostPosted: December 3rd, 2013, 4:19 pm 
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OK...I compromised and added that to the first line of the post... :lol:

And, working 40 hrs a week makes it even more important to follow these tips and strategies when you ARE able to herp.


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 Post subject: Re: How to Get & Enter Massive Quantities of Data
PostPosted: June 29th, 2014, 12:23 pm 

Joined: December 21st, 2013, 5:59 pm
Posts: 43
Location: Pasadena, MD
I just started entering data into the database. I know pretty much nothing about strategy or proper data entry techniques. I like these strategies, but I was wondering about some of this.

I can go to a nearby road and find at least 20 rough greensnakes in a couple hours of searching through vines. I find a different box turtle every couple weeks near my house. Should I record every single greensnake or box turtle? Brian Hubbs, you said with the tree lizards that you don't record every one you see, but record enough so that it's clear there's a decent population. How do I know when I've recorded enough of the box turtles around my house? With the snakes flipped under boards you said record every one of them. Is it just up to my judgement to decide how many of one species at one location is enough? And also, what about the really common stuff? I can find a hundred fowler's toads in a night. Should I do something like record 1 out of every 10 of them, or make one record for all of them and indicate they were all found in one general area. I don't see the usefulness of 100 records of fowler's toads from one little field, but as I said I'm new and don't quite understand most of this. Is all of this up to me, the data recorder? Or does one method help the database more? Whatever helps make the data more useful is the one I'll use.

Thanks for any help you guys can offer,
Jake


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 Post subject: Re: How to Get & Enter Massive Quantities of Data
PostPosted: July 1st, 2014, 10:10 am 
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This question has been asked many times, and I think the general opinion is to do whatever you want, but my opinion would be to record a few common animals from each location (ie. field, yard, every hundred yards of woods, etc.). This way, you are still mapping the species and abundance but not overdoing it. I still photograph every turtle I see the first time I visit a pond or bridge or creek, but I usually don't go back again. I do not record every bullfrog I see at one location unless I want to record them from different points around a lake or pond or along a stream. So, I would say record every DOR (except for the toads and frogs and salamanders if they are too numerous in one short stretch of road), every herp under boards the first time you check them (and then only the ones you can recognize as new the next time you go there), every turtle the first time you go to a spot, etc. My emphasis is diversity of localities...meaning I like to go to as many new places as possible. It could take you a long time to record herps from every pond in just your own county, or every river/creek crossing, or every section of woods. Use your own judgement. Hope that helps.


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 Post subject: Re: How to Get & Enter Massive Quantities of Data
PostPosted: July 1st, 2014, 12:09 pm 

Joined: December 21st, 2013, 5:59 pm
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Location: Pasadena, MD
Brian Hubbs wrote:
Hope that helps.

Yes, that helped. Thanks for responding. :)


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 Post subject: Re: How to Get & Enter Massive Quantities of Data
PostPosted: July 1st, 2014, 12:16 pm 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
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Quote:
I just started entering data into the database. I know pretty much nothing about strategy or proper data entry techniques. I like these strategies, but I was wondering about some of this. (...) Whatever helps make the data more useful is the one I'll use.


I think Hubbs answered this pretty well. Trying to be helpful, I would add, maybe to the beginning of his response, that whatever you choose to do ought to support whatever it is you think is important, or whatever it is you want to help with. So for example, Hubbs thinks this is important:

Quote:
My emphasis is diversity of localities


which is why he chooses to enter a few representative animals from tons and tons of places. I think that's awesome. I think that's one of the best uses of this kind of citizen science. It's not dependent on any sort of study design, it isn't trying to extend any sort of inference, it's just trying to generate a big dataset of positive-encounter data. Which is very useful for some things, and totally useless for others, but that's just fine. He's having a damn good time, and - again, for emphasis - he's doing something very, very useful.

But if your purpose was something else, say documenting earlier onset of spring pond breeding over a period of decades, or the irruption of a new population of some invasive species, or changes in the encounter probability, or density, or absolute abundance, or age pyramid, or whatever, of green snakes or Fowler's toads or boxies at your favorite herping spot - well, you'd have to use other techniques - specific, well thought-out, methodical, and consistent techniques - to suit your purpose. But that could get complicated fast, and your project could easily get completely ruined if the circumstances of your life - or your spot - changed. If you had to move far away, or start a new job with a problematic schedule. Or your spot gets turned into a parking lot or shopping mall or cornfield. Whereas Hubb's approach is very robust to a lot of the wild cards life throws at us. None of the data he collects today can be made less valuable by something happening tomorrow. This is worth considering.

If you wanted to kick it up a notch, you could - checking the regs first - salvage "noteworthy" DORs and get them to a natural history museum's herp collection. The herp curator there could probably help you understand and recognize what might be "noteworthy". I like this strategy because it's very complementary to both the Hubbs strategy (mega-localities!) and your average Friday night home-town cruise, and it really adds just a trivial amount of extra work, with a large payoff in terms of "scientific contribution". The return on investment is pretty fabulous. But - the important thing is to have fun, and not turn it into a bummer and a job. So do what you like, and have fun.

I didn't say it yet - THANKS for collecting & entering data!

cheers,
Jimi


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