How to Get and Enter Massive Quantities of Data

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Brian Hubbs
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How to Get and Enter Massive Quantities of Data

Post by Brian Hubbs »

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 lizards or salamanders. However, once you've photographed every lizard or every salamander at a site, don't go there again (unless you really like to). Here's an example from a few alleys here in Tempe where I voucherd mass quantities of lizards for the hell of it. 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.
In 2014 your chapter contest might have the same categories as the CA and AZ chapter contests - meaning 4 extra categories, including one for DORs and one for 25 or more of any species from any county. This seems to motivate people to photograph 25 of something in a county. Each 25 is worth 5 extra points, and this helps establish ideas of densities at each place. Some game agencies place restrictive limits or prohibitions on certain species, believing they are rare. We need to demonstrate which ones are not rare or even scarce.

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 labeld pond and creek crossings to look for pond turtles. I kept the image out of focus to keep the area unrecognizable:

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If you want to record turtles, water snakes, 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 and use a telephoto camera to record the species from a good distance first, DON'T just go blundering down to the water or you'll scare 90% of them away immediately. Be stealthy.

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. My latest conquest was in Northeastern Nebraska and Southwestern Iowa (around 30 counties). 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. This year I came home with 42 official (Herp Review) county records for various species, including a milk snake in CO.

The point of all this is MAPPING and filling in the gaps in our knowledge. 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. Sometimes lizards and garter snakes 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 or tin sets, photograph every snake you see at them. Keep a separate file of pics of the snakes you see (not ring-necks, worm snakes, brown snakes, or racers-only record them on the first visit because you can't tell them apart :lol: ). 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 CA 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 Cal king from another, but head patterns and blotch counts might work in your area...or you could count speckles :roll: .

If you search rocks, follow the same plan for milks, kings and anything else. Just about any snake can be differentiated from others if you take good photos (except the small ones named above). 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 June:

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Any questions so far?

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justinm
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Re: How to Get and Enter Massive Quantities of Data

Post by justinm »

My only question is when can I get your autograph, and hang out with my hero.

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: How to Get and Enter Massive Quantities of Data

Post by Brian Hubbs »

I love you too, Justin. Have a nice day... :thumb:

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: How to Get and Enter Massive Quantities of Data

Post by Brian Hubbs »

Man, it must be a big bummer for you guys to have an AZ dude enter more records from your area this year than anyone in your chapter... :lol: :roll:

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: How to Get and Enter Massive Quantities of Data

Post by Brian Hubbs »

http://www.naherp.com/reports/national- ... &chapter=1

Plus, you never changed your scorecard from 2012 to 2013... :shock:

corey.raimond
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Re: How to Get and Enter Massive Quantities of Data

Post by corey.raimond »

IMO the best way to get more records is to talk to private landowners.

-Corey

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: How to Get and Enter Massive Quantities of Data

Post by Brian Hubbs »

Corey, have you entered anything this year? I don't see your name on the list...

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