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.

Click here to return to full index.

III. SPECIMEN DATA

Documentation standards in this section strictly apply to data concerning the individual specimens used in database operations.

A. TYPE OF PRESERVATION—Essential.

DESCRIPTION: This category reports the preservation of the primary specimen and its parts.* 

FORMAT: Data entered in this category consists of a standard two-character alphabetic code (see VALID EXAMPLES).

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: This category is perhaps the most nonstandardized of all categories in common among collections. Flexibility for internal usage is very important. Woodward (1989) proposed an expanded system which utilized more than two characters. However, numerous collections have adopted the originally proposed system and merely added new abbreviations when needed. This listing shows the original NIRM standards and some proposed new codes. The new codes acknowledge TYPES OF PRESERVATION that were overlooked in the original work or which have come into common use since that time.

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

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: None.

VALID EXAMPLES: These codes represent the NIRM standards for the category.

 

Code  Definition 
AL Alcoholic
SS Skin and skull
SB Skin, skull, and body skeleton
SN Complete skeleton
SK Skull only
SO Skin only
SA Alcoholic with skull removed
KB Skin and body skeleton (no skull)
AN Anatomical
PS Partial skeleton
CO Cranium only
HM Head mount
BM Body mount
SC Skin, skull, and alcoholic carcass
BS Body skeleton
OT* Other, with explanation in comments
Additions to the original list: 
HO Horn(s) only
AO Antler(s) only
BO Baculum only
MO Mandible only
TH Tooth (Teeth) only
TK Tusk(s) only
SM Skin, skull, and baculum

 

COMMENTS: *This category applies to traditional collections. Ancillary collections are addressed in another field for use as a subset of the main database. It was originally felt that coding of data for this category would promote standardization of preservation descriptions and provide easier output operations that require this information, particularly in output with limited working space. For those collections that did not adopt these standards it may serve as a reference during data transfer.

 

 


 

B. SEX—Essential.

DESCRIPTIONS: This category applies to the sex of the specimen.

FORMAT: Data entered in this category consist of one alphabetic character.

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: Long established databases used “U” for unknown sex because the “?” was unavailable on early printers even though the latter was used in hand ledgers from which the data were transcribed. Later computerization efforts often utilized the “?,” as directly captured from the handwritten catalogs.

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

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: None.

VALID EXAMPLES:
F = Female
M = Male
U or ? = Unknown

COMMENTS: The use of “U” was adopted because some early computer systems were unable to provide a “?.” This is apparently the only reason for the deviation from the use of “?” which is usually found on handwritten specimen documentation.

 

 


 

C. EXTERNAL MEASUREMENTS—Optional.

DESCRIPTION: This category applies to standard measurements (usually total length, tail length, length of hind foot, and length of ear at notch) taken from the specimen prior to preservation.

FORMAT: The format and types of measurements are determined by the institution to fulfill its needs.

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: Other measurements such as calcar, tragus, forearm, weight, and special measurements for Pinnipedia and Cetacea, also may be included.

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

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: None.

VALID EXAMPLES:
TL 0236 MM TA 0120 MM HF 0017 MM EM 0012 MM
122, 37, 16, 6, 26
342, 101, 50, 20.1
92-10-9-10=5.5 G
X-X-14-7=X*
[142]-[81]*-12-7=37.5 G
X-X-X-X=X

COMMENTS: This category is primarily for research purposes and has little or no value for collection management. Although an institution’s needs may require retrieval of measurements taken at the time of preservation, it should be realized that another category is available for weight if it is desirable to retrieve such data separately.

*It may be desirable to use the same method of designating missing or incomplete measurements in the database as on the original skin tags or field catalogue.

See APPENDIX C for CHIN variations.

 

 


 

D. WEIGHT—Optional.

DESCRIPTION: This category applies to the weight of the specimen at the time of death.

FORMAT: The format and types of information are determined by the institution to fulfill its needs.

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: None.

OMIT CONDITIONS: If this category is adopted by the institution, it may be omitted if appropriate data are not available.

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: None.

VALID EXAMPLES:
999 G
1.02 KG
400 KG
21.5 LB
8 OZ

COMMENTS: This category is primarily for research purposes and has little or no value for collection management. See III. EXTERNAL MEASUREMENTS for alternative method of documentation.

See APPENDIX C for CHIN variations.

 

 


 

E. AGE—Optional.

DESCRIPTION: This category applies to the absolute and relative determination of the age of the specimen.

FORMAT: Because utilization of this category is generally restricted to specific projects or a small percentage of the collection, the format used is determined by the institution to fulfill its needs.

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: None.

OMIT CONDITIONS: If this category is adopted by the institution, it may be omitted if no appropriate data are available.

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: None.

VALID EXAMPLES:
4 YEARS
AGE CLASS III
ADULT
23 WEEKS
115 DAYS

COMMENTS: Return on the cost of entering and storing these data should be carefully evaluated against potential internal utilization. Primary researchers will need to verify these data for their own studies. This category has little or no value for collection management.

See APPENDIX C for CHIN variations.

 

 


 

F. REPRODUCTIVE DATA—Optional.

DESCRIPTION: This category applies to data concerning the reproductive condition of the specimen.

FORMAT: The format and types of information used are determined by the institution to fulfill its needs.

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: None.

OMIT CONDITIONS: If this category is adopted by the institution, it may be omitted if no appropriate data are available.

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: None.

VALID EXAMPLES:
TESTES 8 X 2 MM
2 EMBRYOS (2, 0) CR 13 MM, LACTATING
1 EMBRYO, CR 130 MM
3 EMB, 2R, 1L X 9 MM
NO EMB, NOT LACT

COMMENTS: If this field is commonly used within a particular collection, it may be desirable to subdivide into individual fields such as TESTES, EMBRYOS, PLACENTAL SCARS, etc., for better retrieval. Return on the cost of entering and storing these data should be carefully evaluated. It will be used primarily for research and will have little or no value for collection management.

 

 


 

G. ECOLOGICAL NOTES—Optional.

DESCRIPTION: This category applies to data concerning the habitat of the locality where the specimen was captured.

FORMAT: The format and types of information used are determined by the institution to fulfill its needs.

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: None.

OMIT CONDITIONS: If this category is adopted by the institution, it may be omitted if no appropriate data are available.

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: None.

VALID EXAMPLES:
ROCKY PLAIN
TALUS SLOPE
MESQUITE-GRASSLAND, BUFFALO GRASS DOMINANT

COMMENTS: Unless the individual collection takes steps to set standards for this category, this will be an informational field with limited retrieval potential. It is a category primarily for research usage with little or no value for collection management.

 

 


 

H. DATE COLLECTED—Essential.

DESCRIPTION: This category applies to the date that the specimen was captured based on the collector’s field data. For specimens that have been maintained in captivity for more than 24 hours, the date of death in entered in this category.

FORMAT: The date of capture should be entered as day, month, year. The day of capture is always a two-character numeric field. A leading zero is used for single digit numbers. The month of the year is always a three-character alphabetic field consisting of the first three letters in the name of the month. The year is always a four-character numeric field. The day, month, and year are separated by one space.*  

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: Several methods of date entry have been undertaken within various institutions.* If the date collected has incomplete data, each missing numeric character is filled in with the number ב” and each missing alphabetic field is filled with the letter “X.” If the date of capture is documented as a time interval, constant portions of the date are entered in appropriate positions and variable portions are replaced with 9s or Xs. If such a procedure is used, an asterisk (*) may follow the date to indicate that additional information is recorded in the categories for REMARKS. The category for REMARKS may also be used to explain the date of death of captive mammals. If the date collected is documented as a season instead of a day and a month, the following acronyms may be used in place of the month: SUM = summer, FAL = fall, WIN = winter, SPR = spring.

OMIT CONDITIONS: This category was designated “mandatory” in 1975 and should never be omitted.

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: None.

VALID EXAMPLES: 

 

Input Data  Corresponding Original Data 
15 JAN 1919 1-15-1919
09 JUN 1878 June 9, 1878
99 SEP 1936 September 1936
99 XXX 1967 1967
99 XXX 1967 15 Aug-10 Sept 1967
99 SUM 1970 Summer, 1970
99 XXX 9999 Date unknown

 

COMMENTS: The use of 9s and Xs to replace missing data will allow standard retrieval and place such records at the end of any list of common data. For incomplete data, cataloger may provide additional information under REMARKS, if known. Some institutions prefer a strictly numerical field for ease of sorting and some software (such as Paradox) has a special data type strictly for handling dates. This is one of the simplest fields to standardize at the time of data transmission because most software provides options for variation in entry of date data.

 

 


 

I. COLLECTOR—Essential.* 

DESCRIPTION: This category applies to the name(s) of the individual(s), project(s), or institution(s) designated on the original data source (field notes) or in the accession papers as responsible for capturing the specimen (see COMMENTS).

FORMAT: For individuals, the initial(s) of the first name(s) follow(s) the last name. The last name is separated from the initials by a comma and one space. Other initials are separated by one space. If there are two collectors, the word “AND” should separate the names. Use only trailing initials to facilitate sorting and retrieval. If there are more than two collectors, “ET AL” should follow the name of the primary collector (individual with associated field notes for the specimen). Due to potential space problems, name modifiers and titles (MRS, DR, JR, III) are not used unless such items are needed to avoid confusing individuals within the collection. Project(s) and institution(s) are designated exactly as they appear on accession documentation. Class collections should be indicated as “ET AL” following the instructor’s name.

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: None.

OMIT CONDITIONS: If this category is adopted by the institution, it may be omitted if no applicable data are available.

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: None.

VALID EXAMPLES:
SMITH, J K
JOHNSON, T T AND THOMAS, B A
MORRIS, T J ET AL

COMMENTS: *Some collections may use this category interchangeably with preparator. Use of both fields may not be essential. It should be understood that information stored in this category represents the source of the acquisition and should not be confused with the person who prepared the specimen (PREPARATOR). If the person listed does not have an associated preparation number (field number), it will be assumed that the person listed is ONLY the collector. This category is a reference source to field notes that contain such things as ecological and other collecting site information for the specimen. If this category is adopted, a master list of collector names and initials should be maintained. This will help standardize data, avoid misspellings, and fill in missing information, such as initials.


 

COLLECTOR’S NUMBER—Essential.*  

DESCRIPTION: This category applies to the field number and/or alphabetic code assigned by the collector to a specimen at the time of capture.

FORMAT: Generally, data for this category are entered exactly as they appear on the original specimen tag.

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: In the event that a collector has assigned the same number to two or more specimens, and it is possible to associate all the parts of each specimen, then alphabetic characters may be added to the end of each number to differentiate the specimens. Some collections associate the collector’s initials with the field number.

OMIT CONDITIONS: If this category is adopted by the institution, it may be omitted if no applicable data are available.

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: This category may be used when the category for COLLECTOR is used and a original number has been assigned.

VALID EXAMPLES:
1006
10034
1977-125
905A
905B
SMW75-01
FN28429
009

COMMENTS: Leading zeros may be used if the collector included such notation in field catalogs and on specimen tags. However, consistency in use of leading zeros is important for sorted output with most types of software.

 

 


 

PREPARATOR—Essential.* 

DESCRIPTION: This category applies to the name(s) of the individual(s), referenced with a preparation number, who was (were) responsible for preparing the specimen.

FORMAT: The initial(s) of the first name(s) follow(s) the last name. The last name is separated from the initials by a comma and one space. Other initials are separated by one space. If there are two preparators, the word “AND” is used to separate the names. Use only trailing initials to facilitate sorting and retrieval. Due to potential space problems, name modifiers and titles (MRS, DR, JR, III) are not used unless such items are needed to avoid confusing individuals within the collection.

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: None.

OMIT CONDITIONS: If this category is adopted by the institution, it may be omitted if no applicable data are available.

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: None.

VALID EXAMPLES:
SMITH, J K
JOHNSON, T T AND THOMAS, B A

COMMENTS: *Some collections may use this category interchangeably with collector. Use of both fields may not be essential depending upon individual practices of various institutions. It should be understood that information stored in this category represents the person(s) who prepared the specimen, as indicated by the preparator’s number. It should not be confused with the person (COLLECTOR) who collected the specimen, although they might be the same person. The field for “COLLECTOR” is intended to give reference to the existence of supplemental field information. The field for “PREPARATOR” is intended to give reference to a field catalogue and to identify the individual who obtained specimen measurements, reproductive data, etc. If this category is adopted by the institution, a master list of preparator names and initials should be maintained. Such a list will help standardize data, avoid misspellings, and fill in missing information, such as initials.

 

 


 

PREPARATOR’S NUMBER—Essential.* 

DESCRIPTION: This category applies to the number assigned by the preparator to a specimen at the time of preparation.

FORMAT: Data for this category are entered exactly as they appear on the original specimen tag, except for the omission of the preparator’s initials that would be entered in the category for PREPARATOR.

ACCEPTED VARIATIONS: In the event that a preparator has assigned the same number to two or more specimens, and it is possible to associate all the parts of each specimen, then alphabetic characters may be added to the end of each number to differentiate the specimens.

OMIT CONDITIONS: If this category is adopted by the institution, it may be omitted if no applicable data are available.

CONTINGENCY REQUIREMENTS: This category is used when the category for PREPARATOR is used.

VALID EXAMPLES:
X
1
678A
678B
1978-254

COMMENTS: Leading zeros may be used if the preparator included such notation in field catalogs and specimen tags. However, consistency in use of leading zeros is important for sorted output with most types of software.

 

 

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