Mammals

Documentation Standards for Automatic Data Processing in Mammalogy

VERSION 2.0
1996
ISBN 0-89338-051-2
 

American Society of Mammalogists
Committee on Information Retrieval
To obtain a copy of this publication, please contact Suzanne McLaren.

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II. TAXONOMIC DATA 

Documentation standards in this section apply to accepted nomenclature of various levels of taxonomy in the collections stored on the computerized database. Although differences of opinion are not uncommon and some taxa are not well understood, many collections use Wilson and Reeder (1993) as a standard reference. This publication does not attempt to dictate the use of any specific standard reference but encourages communication between database users and caretakers. Additionally, the optional category “PUBLISHED RECORD” may prove very useful in keeping taxonomic assignment choices clear to all users.

A. ORDER
B. FAMILY
C. GENUS
D. SPECIES
E. SUBSPECIES  

A. ORDER—Optional.

DESCRIPTION: This category applies to the most recent taxonomic designation of the order of the specimen.

FORMAT: Enter the official spelling of the order, written out completely, as defined by the current rulings of the International Code on Zoological Nomenclature.

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: Depending on desired output and utilization, the orders of mammals may be coded (see COMMENTS) or, if using a true relational database, stored in a separate, linked file. If the order has not been determined, enter “UNKNOWN.”

OMIT CONDITIONS: If this category is adopted by the institution, it should not be omitted.

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: None.

VALID EXAMPLES:
CETACEA
MARSUPIALIA
MACROSCELOIDEA
CHIROPTERA
UNKNOWN

COMMENTS: Utilization of this category is primarily for ease in retrieval and providing general phylogenetic arrangement by grouping specimens of a common order. Special programming will be required to obtain phylogenetic rather than alphabetic arrangement of output. The phylogenetic arrangement can be achieved either by special programming or by coding data. One disadvantage to coding data in this category is that input errors might be difficult to detect. If an institution desires to have coded information written out completely, such a function can be provided with special programming.

For collections with true relational database capabilities, this field can be stored in a linked file which then serves as a spell check as new data are entered throughout the taxonomic hierarchy. This practice also limits repetitive entries.

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B. FAMILY—Preferred.

DESCRIPTION: This category applies to the most recent taxonomic designation of the family of the specimen.

FORMAT: Enter the official spelling of the family, written out completely, as defined by the current rulings of the International Code on Zoological Nomenclature.

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: Depending on desired output and utilization, the families of mammals may be coded (see COMMENTS) or, if using a true relational database, stored in a separate, linked file. If the family has not been determined, enter “UNKNOWN.”

OMIT CONDITIONS: If this category is adopted by the institution, it should not be omitted.

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: None.

VALID EXAMPLES:
SOLENODONTIDAE
PHYLLOSTOMIDAE
GEOMYIDAE
BOVIDAE
UNKNOWN

COMMENTS: Utilization of this category is primarily for ease in retrieval and providing general phylogenetic arrangement by grouping specimens of a common family. Special programming will be required to obtain phylogenetic rather than alphabetic arrangement of output. The phylogenetic arrangement can be achieved either by special programming or by coding data. One disadvantage to coding data in this category is that input errors might be difficult to detect. If an institution desires to have coded information written out completely, such a function can be provided with special programming. For collections with true relational database capabilities, this field can be stored in a linked file which then serves as a spell check as new data are entered throughout the taxonomic hierarchy. This practice also alleviates the need for repetitive entries.

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C. GENUS—Essential.

DESCRIPTION: This category applies to the most recent taxonomic designation of the genus of the specimen.

FORMAT: Enter the official spelling of the generic name, written out completely, as defined by the current rulings of the International Code on Zoological Nomenclature.

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: When laboratory hybrids are contained in the collection, the genus name followed by “-H” allows the specimens to sort with others of that genus but to fall out as a group at the end of the genus. In the event that a specimen has not been identified, a general term such as “BAT” or “RAT” or “CANID” may be used. When such terms are used they should be preceded by “ZZ” so that they will be listed at the end of a file instead of mixed within taxonomic listings. If using a true relational database, genus would be the key field to be shared by the main database and a linked file containing higher taxonomic levels.

OMIT CONDITIONS: This category was declared “mandatory” in 1975 and is never to be omitted.

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: None.

VALID EXAMPLES:
SPERMOPHILUS
CHIRODERMA
ZZRAT
NEOTOMA-H

COMMENTS: In the event that the genus of a specimen is uncertain, and the entry is supplemented with “ZZ,” every effort should be made to correct this situation as soon as possible. When setting up contingency plans for odd situations such as for hybrids, it should be remembered that deviations from the norm may cause words to be missed during a search of the field. A dictionary of exceptions is essential to preventing such oversights, especially when the exception represents a small fraction of the total collection. Such information will be important for receivers of shared data as well.

See APPENDIX C for CHIN variations.

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D. SPECIES—Essential.

DESCRIPTION: This category applies to the most recent taxonomic designation of the species of the specimen.

FORMAT: Enter the official spelling of the species, written out completely, as defined by the current rulings of the International Code on Zoological Nomenclature.

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: Hybrids may be listed as Sp1 X Sp2. The International Code on Zoological Nomenclature does not advise which parent should be listed as Sp1 and among many museum specimens, lineage may not be known. Thus for consistency in input, output, and placement within the collection, it is suggested that the species names be listed in alphabetic order (e.g.,familiaris X latrans) (See COMMENTS)

OMIT CONDITIONS: Although this category was declared “mandatory” in 1975, entries may be omitted if identification is unknown (see COMMENTS).

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: This category is used only after data have been entered in the category for GENUS.

VALID EXAMPLES:
CANADENSIS
DESERTI
PERSONATUS
FAMILIARIS X LATRANS

COMMENTS: In the previous edition of the Documentation Standards, it was suggested that “?” or “SP” be used following an uncertain determination or when the species name is unknown. Practical application has shown this to be problematic and is not recommended.

In the event that this field is unknown, it should be left blank.

See APPENDIX C for CHIN variations.

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E. SUBSPECIES—Preferred.

DESCRIPTION: This category applies to the most recent taxonomic designation of the subspecies of the specimen.

FORMAT: Enter the official spelling of the subspecific name, written out completely, as defined by the current rulings of the International Code on Zoological Nomenclature.

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: If it is appropriate, the name of the breed of a domestic mammal may be used in this category. To avoid confusion with actual subspecific names, breed names should be enclosed in parentheses (see OMIT CONDITIONS).

OMIT CONDITIONS: If this category is adopted by the institution, it may be left blank if the subspecies has not been determined, cannot be determined, or if the species is monotypic (see ACCEPTED VARIATIONS).

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: The category is used only after data have been entered for categories for GENUS and SPECIES.

VALID EXAMPLES:
MERRIAMI
(GERMAN SHEPHERD)

COMMENTS: See APPENDIX C for CHIN variations.

 

I. INSTITUTIONAL DATA 

II. TAXONOMIC DATA 

III. SPECIMEN DATA 

IV. GEOGRAPHIC DATA 

V. OTHER DATA 

VI. APPENDICES 

APPENDIX A. LISTING OF CATEGORIES BY USAGE STATUS
APPENDIX B. LISTING OF STANDARD ABBREVIATIONS
APPENDIX C. NOTATIONS ON THE CHIN SYSTEM
APPENDIX D. SAMPLE DATA RELEASE AGREEMENT

VII. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS  

VIII. LITERATURE CITED