How do you format your lifelist?

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Andy Avram
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How do you format your lifelist?

Post by Andy Avram » August 28th, 2011, 8:29 am

I enjoy keeping a lifelist of certain groups of animals I see (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fishes) and it was all nice and easy until I went to Costa Rica. I really don’t care about ABA, but want to designate the country(ies) I see the species in. I am also interested in relationships among species, so I try to call that out too in my list (I am not interested in where/when I listed my first one). Recently the format has evolved into the following screenshots, but I am not sure if I like this or not.

Since this is on the bird forum, here is the first page of the bird lifelist.
Image
As you can see, I list at the end other countries I have seen the species in, which is only Canada and Costa Rica. It defaults to the US unless I have also seen it in another country.

Here is a sample from the end of the lizards and beginning of the snakes. With herps, and only herps, I keep track of subspecies.
Image

So, if for no other reason than to give me different formatting options for my lifelist, how do you keep your lists? And if possible post part of one up.

Thanks,
Andy

ps. I should say these are made in Word on standard 8.5x11" pages. I was doing 2 columns, but some species names are so long that with the added countries they sometimes are on 2 lines and, well, that just bugs me.

J-Miz
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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by J-Miz » August 28th, 2011, 11:35 am

Wow...very attractive life lists you have created. I used to just have a life list on regular college-ruled paper...common names only in taxonomic order. No divisions for waterfowl, warblers, etc...one group of birds ran straight into the next. I have since stopped updating the list as I can barely remember seeing Scott's Orioles in AZ or differentiating Arizona's Myiarchus flycatchers.

I sort of keep an Ohio-only bird list. I find I like to include some info with that (i.e. Purple Gallinule was #283 on 5/03/2010 @ Columbia Reservation, Lorain Co.).

Including subsp. information for birds may be useful...in case there are species splits down the road.

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chrish
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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by chrish » August 28th, 2011, 3:19 pm

I used to keep my lists on paper. Then came the computer revolution and the first useful thing I did was covert my list to a spreadsheet file. After a while I made it into a database file.

Then I discovered Avisys (http://www.avisys.net). Since then I don't only keep lifers, but I try to keep a record of all birds I see when I am birding. Because of that, I can look up exactly when I saw my first Baltimore Oriole at Port Aransas TX and how many times I've seen it since (not that I care). I can also create state lists, nation lists, county lists, city lists, etc. for whatever area I want. It is a very powerful program. There are other bird listing programs that have prettier GUIs and pictures/calls, but none are as powerful as Avisys in my experience.

Sure, it is $100, but is money very well spent if you are a lister.

Using Avisys' powerful editing tools, I also created separate:
Herps of North America
Reptiles of the World
Amphibians of the World
Mammals of the World
lists for the program/

If anyone wants those, I can send them to you. You do have to own Avisys of course.

I hate to plug the program so strongly, but it simply is the best.

Of course, there is another free (and maybe more socially useful) way to keep your list - sign up for Ebird.org and keep your sightings there. It is a bit more clunky than doing it on your PC until you get used to it, but has the advantage of being automatically backed up and your sightings contribute to the body of knowledge as a whole.

Of course, for keeping your herplist, go no further than http://www.naherp.com!!

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Curtis Hart
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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by Curtis Hart » August 28th, 2011, 9:59 pm

I started with a microsoft works database and just recently updated to Avisys. Chrish, I would love it if you sent me all four of those files. I was so disappointed with the herp option I have barely used it. I did edit the North American Mammals to my tastes. Thanks,


[email protected]

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chrish
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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by chrish » August 29th, 2011, 3:51 am

Curtis,

You can get them from:

http://www.birdsandherps.com/resources/REPTILES.upd
http://www.birdsandherps.com/resources/mammals.upd
http://www.birdsandherps.com/resources/amphibia.upd
http://www.birdsandherps.com/resources/NA_HERPS.upd


For each of these, you have to open up avisys,

*Before I did any of this, I would back up my bird slghting data with the backup utility, just in case.

To update, go to File: Add New Data Set

Name the datasets mammals, herps, amphibs...or whatever.

Avisys will create a folder with that dataset name in your AVI6 directory. Save the appropriate UPD file in the folder of each of those datasets.

Rename each UPD file to MASTER.UPD (MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN THE CORRECT FOLDER)

Open the dataset by choosing it under the File menu. (It will list birds when you first open it and build sighting file indexes, subspecies files, etc)

Once again, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT DATASET OPEN (You don't want to overwrite your bird sightings)

go to Utilities: Update Master Checklist (from update file)

It should give you a bunch of warnings, then overwrite the MASTER.AVI file for that folder

It will then close Avisys. When you reopen it, open your new dataset listed under the File menu. Now it should have the correct taxonomic names. It might want to rebuild subspecies files, etc. Let it do that. There are no subspecies listed for any of the herps. The editor doesn't let you do that and the Avisys creator wouldn't tell me how to do it (it is complicated).

Let me know if any of these don't work or don't have what they claim (i.e. if the mammals one isn't the file of mammal common names, or if they don't close/open correctly etc). In case you are planning on making one of these the default dataset that opens when you open the program, make sure they open/close correctly before you do so!

Unfortunately, you can't join the Amphibian and Reptile datasets to make a herps of the world dataset. Avisys only allows 11,000 taxa in a single file at the moment (according to the creator) and the total of the herp lists would be over 15,000 taxonomic units because of all the family and genus categories. That may change with future versions?

If you don't like the taxonomy I used and want to do large scale editing, download the free Editmaster program he provides (http://www.avisys.net/aviedit.htm). It is a pretty easy way to make big fixes.

Chris

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Curtis Hart
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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by Curtis Hart » August 29th, 2011, 6:56 am

Thanks for the lists. Amphibians works fine and reptiles works, but I regularly get error messages. The mammals list worked, but seems to be only partial. There are only 2729 species out of the over 5000 known species. Carnivores, bats, cetaceans, and ungulates are all missing. I also noticed a few species missing, such as Bornean Orang utan, while Sumatran was there, this is not a taxonomy difference as the Bornean was the original and the Sumatrans latin name is correct. Was it always like this or did it only partially download or something?


Thanks,


Curtis

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chrish
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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by chrish » August 29th, 2011, 11:05 am

Curtis,

I believe I have fixed it now.

The same link for the mammals file should now give you a new MAMMALS.UPD that has 5000+ species, including bats, rodents, ungulates and cetaceans.
I don't know where the half file came from? :oops:

What types of error messages do you get with the reptiles/amphibs? I don't get any.
You might try going under utilities and clicking "Rebuild Sighting File Indices" and rebuild world band codes.

The band code utility works really well with scientific names in the reptiles/amphibians BTW. Much easier than dealing with the complex bird banding codes.

Chris

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Andy Avram
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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by Andy Avram » August 29th, 2011, 4:41 pm

Jared, if you were hand-writing it out in taxonomical order, that had to be rough when you added species. I used to use a checklist, but things you have seen just get mixed up with what you haven't seen. At this point I may not clearly remember some of my finds, but I do for most of them. I don't keep an Ohio list and not really sure if I ever will. Aside from my listlists, I typically keep a year list (which I sometimes want to stop, but it is hard to give up on some things) and trip lists. As for subspecies... it is hard to find subspecies ranges/descriptions/etc. for most groups of animals outside of herps.

Chris, I have looked around at that program but it may just be too much for what I am looking for. Mostly I like staring at my list which takes me back to when I saw that particular animal. I guess I like it more for the nostalgia it creates in me. But, do you have an example of what a basic listing of what you have seen would look like from Avisys? There are some examples on the website, but they are more specific then just a listing of what the person saw. And, if you don't agree with the taxonomy can you write in your own?

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Curtis Hart
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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by Curtis Hart » August 29th, 2011, 6:50 pm

Here's a basic report/list of what I've seen since July 29th. You can have it a lot more detailed than this if you want.
Image

You can edit the taxonomy very easily. I wasn't content with the North American Mammals, so I changed a bit.

J-Miz
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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by J-Miz » August 30th, 2011, 3:57 pm

Andy,

My list was very unattractive and I would just add the new lifers to the side where they would generally go taxonomically. In no way was it professional-looking!

Also--the revised 6th edition of the National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America is to be released in November. I read that the distribution maps will show subspecies boundaries.

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chrish
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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by chrish » August 30th, 2011, 4:00 pm

Andy Avram wrote:Mostly I like staring at my list which takes me back to when I saw that particular animal. I guess I like it more for the nostalgia it creates in me.
Absolutely. I think that is their primary purpose. But with this program, I can look back to see how many records I have for a particular species in a particular state and remember any specific sighting that I happened to record.
But, do you have an example of what a basic listing of what you have seen would look like from Avisys? There are some examples on the website, but they are more specific then just a listing of what the person saw. And, if you don't agree with the taxonomy can you write in your own?
Curtis gave an example of the standard output but there is a lot more.

You can also create checklists of critters for your local area, city, state, whatever and print them off to take in the field with you and have them note which species you had seen before in that area or anywhere else. You can create the lists as PDF files with checkboxes, for example, if you needed a checklist to the reptiles of Borneo for your next trip into the jungle - http://www.birdsandherps.com/lists/borneo.PDF

One newer thing it does it creates HTML versions of your lifelist etc, with Next buttons at the bottom of the page. For example, here's a version of my reptiles lifelist from last year - http://www.birdsandherps.com/lists/rept ... list1.HTML

One of the birding things I like is to check out the species that are on a particular area that you are missing. For example, I have seen/recorded sightings of 165 species at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. But with a few mouse clicks, I can create a list of the birds that are on the Aransas Checklist that I haven't seen there so I know what to watch out for on my next visit. For example, I haven't ever recorded seeing a Common Loon or Red-breasted Merganser from there. I've probably seen them, but never recorded that fact. So this winter I will specifically look for those.

It will also output data in a format that Ebird can read. So you can export all your bird sightings into Ebird to access your lists/records online if you wanted.

It does a lot of other cool stuff. For example, how many Western Diamondback sightings have I recorded per year over the last 10 years? Or per month this year? Or per month in 1998? Assuming you had that data, it is all there at the click of the mouse.

The power of the program is really only limited by the quality of your data.

Some other things I like:

What if I entered records for 500 sightings for Billie Bob State Park in Hudspeth County, TX (there isn't one, don't check :))? Later I find out that this park is actually in Culberson County, not Hudspeth county! DOH! I simply tell the program that the park is in Culberson county and now all my records for the park are moved at once.


As Curtis said, changing a name is a simple matter while in the program. Then there is the open taxonomy update tool that allows you to change large amounts of the database taxonomy (or create new databases altogether like I did with the ones above) by simply opening the whole taxonomy file up in Excel, changing all the toads back to Bufo, for example, the getting it back into the database without losing any sighting data.

The only thing I don't know how to do is to export all my NaHerp sightings and then import those into Avisys. It might be possible, I need to look into it?

Chris

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Curtis Hart
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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by Curtis Hart » August 30th, 2011, 7:05 pm

chrish wrote:Curtis,

I believe I have fixed it now.

The same link for the mammals file should now give you a new MAMMALS.UPD that has 5000+ species, including bats, rodents, ungulates and cetaceans.
I don't know where the half file came from? :oops:

What types of error messages do you get with the reptiles/amphibs? I don't get any.
You might try going under utilities and clicking "Rebuild Sighting File Indices" and rebuild world band codes.

The band code utility works really well with scientific names in the reptiles/amphibians BTW. Much easier than dealing with the complex bird banding codes.

Chris
Reptile error is "Access violation at address 0056C009 in module 'AVISYS60.EXE'. Read of address 00000000"

It still seems to work fine. I haven't had time to input any data though.


The mammal problem is still the same. I tried downloading again and updating it, that didn't work. I erased my original World Mammals, made a new one, this did not work either, still a reduced number of species. Any thoughts on why this could happen?


Thanks,


Curtis

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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by chrish » September 1st, 2011, 2:16 am

Curtis,
Reptile error is "Access violation at address 0056C009 in module 'AVISYS60.EXE'. Read of address 00000000"
That issue usually means there is some sort of illegal character in the file. I recreated the reptiles and amphibian files. See if they work better now.

I also found the mammal problem, but I have no idea why/how this happens.

The file mammals.upd shows as being 647kb where I have it online.
When I download it using Google Chrome, I end up with a file that is 306Kb. That's the version you are ending up with which ends with the Chinese Mole Shrew and has ~2729 species.

When I download it using IE, I end up downloading a file that is 623+/- Kb which has all 5416 taxa.

I uploaded and downloaded/installed it several times with both browsers and the problem was consistent, but I don't understand why.

The file at that link http://www.birdsandherps.com/resources/mammals.upd has all the species for sure. If you can get it to download all ~623Kb it should work.

Try a different browser/download method. Maybe right click and save as?

I could always email you the UPD file to see if that works better? PM me if you want to go that route.

Chris

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Curtis Hart
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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by Curtis Hart » September 1st, 2011, 7:03 pm

Thanks, downloading with Internet Explorer, rather than Google Chrome did the trick. I already noticed an armchair tick, Malenge Babirusa! Thanks,





Curtis Hart

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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by callo » September 16th, 2011, 4:19 pm

Chrish

I registered with the forum just to say Thanks! for the world mammals data set. :thumb: Something I've wanted for years.

FWIW, the file downloads fine with Firefox.

There was some discussion awhile back on the mammalwatching.com forum about world lists and especially electronic lists. None existed, as far as anyone knew. I am curious if you started with an Excel file. It boggles the mind to think of one person doing this manually.

Again, thanks so much,

Callo

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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by Ted » September 17th, 2011, 4:07 pm

I use http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ for my listing. I find that it is similar in use to the NAFHA database, and it has the plus side of creating a life list for you. You can also use it to check lists from certain areas, like a yard list. Luckily you can also e-mail your entries to yourself, o that if the site crashes (as we all know it might) you haven't suddenly lost all of your entries.

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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by chrish » September 18th, 2011, 1:29 pm

callo wrote:There was some discussion awhile back on the mammalwatching.com forum about world lists and especially electronic lists. None existed, as far as anyone knew. I am curious if you started with an Excel file. It boggles the mind to think of one person doing this manually.
I didn't create any of these lists from scratch. They are all modified from lists available online.
The mammals are from http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/.

I modified them to work in Avisys for myself. Since I am giving them to one or two people, I don't believe I'm violating their terms.

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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by callo » November 16th, 2011, 10:36 pm

Hey Chrish,

A very belated response, sorry.

Thanks much for the link to the source of the mammal list. It has a lot of good information.

I agree that this is within the terms of use, this is the kind of non-commercial, private use that they explicitly allow.

The link to the NA_HERPS.upd file upthread appears to be broken. I saw some new snakes in Florida last week and the herp dataset from Avisys does seem pretty weak. I'd like to use your list instead.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks

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Re: How do you format your lifelist?

Post by chrish » November 18th, 2011, 1:06 pm

I fixed the link to the NA_HERPS.upd file.

It should work now.

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