Kahoy's Map

BadBikaDamo

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
Jul 1, 2007
Messages
183
I think Kahoy and others may be onto something here. A 'Google Earth' of scorpion local, but this raises several questions.

Where could a world map be legaly obtained for use and publication?
Who would regulate it?
Would photographic evidence suffice, or would actual specimens need to be submited - to who'm?
Would setting up a geographical record of scorp species justify the humane killing and preservation of scorpions for future reference and I.D.'ing?
Do such reords not exist already?
How would you humanley kill a specimen? (the idea does not appeal to me but could prove invaluble)

So many other questions, but maybe the time is right to set something like this up. As for me, I know nothing about computers and little about I.D.'ing scorpions, but maybe a good discussion could encourage people from different countries to get toghether and work something out, Kahoy has the idea, we have the community set up, what are the chances.......?
 

skinheaddave

SkorpionSkin
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4,343
Where could a world map be legaly obtained for use and publication?
You already said it. Google Earth -- if you are going to go to all this bother, why not make it searchable and interactive? Google Earth allows users to submit tags etc., I do believe. Other than that, check out www.spiderwatch.org. There is an interactive map of sorts for locating sightings. I'm sure David Shorthouse would have some input into this question.

Who would regulate it?
A system of peer review is the way to go here, I think. In order to facilitate the review of actual specimens, we would need competent people in various geographic localities.

Would photographic evidence suffice, or would actual specimens need to be submited - to who'm?
Depends on the species and locale. Some scorpions are very distinct within their area so a photograph is fine. Other species need to go under the microscope to be sure. This is actually weakness number one, and something that was addressed for the afformentioned spiderwatch.org. The species chosen were those that could be easily and reliably IDed by almost anyone who was willing to pay a little attention to detail. The concern here is that once you get into something like Central American Centruroides, it becomes much harder to make definitive identifications. In fact, since the entire genus is in need of review, the whole idea of locating specimens of uncertain species is junk unless it is actually used to try to sort out the genus.

Would setting up a geographical record of scorp species justify the humane killing and preservation of scorpions for future reference and I.D.'ing?
Once again, depends on the circumstances. Certain species already have well defined boundaries, are identifiable by photo alone or are potentially quite rare and shouldn't be tampered with. On the other hand, if you find a known species well outside of its known range, it makes sense to preserve it (along with all of the relevant collection data) so that it may be submitted to an appropriate institution and exist as a permanent record and bit of useful material for future arachnologists.

Do such reords not exist already?
For some species, yes. For others, no.

How would you humanley kill a specimen?
Read it Margaret Atwood. In actuality, there are numorous protocols out there ranging kill jars through to submersion in ethanol. In the end, given the limited neurological components of the scorpion it probably doesn't matter that much which you chose.

There is another, very important, issue that you have not touched on -- the release of localities. With unethical individuals out there, it may not be wise to publish exact localities of everything.

I have some more thoughts on this, but I am running late for work as it is -- so until later.

Cheers,
Dave
 

EAD063

Arachnoprince
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Oct 3, 2006
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1,415
Great responses Dave!

Anyways, Erics "origins" page is probaly the best source of consolidated data that we have. Although a public system may shed some light on where exactly you could find a certain species, I think there would be a lot of skepticism on the validity of whatever information is given. It would be helpful knowing an approximate locale of a species to better understand proper captive conditions, but unless it came from a country that has differnt extremes in temperature, rainfall, etc., the information is easily deductable from other sources. One thing it would assist is people traveling to certain places with collecting in mind. But I know that I for one wouldn't spend thousands of dollars to travel somewhere based on hear-say.

Kahoys map was very informative, but is equally as useless as only a handful of people at best will ever be able to use the map to their advantage.

Anyways, it wasn't as if he is the first to devise such a map. Many peer reviewed journal publications include such distribution maps and a collection of those maps would be much less scrutinized than a database of user submitted information.
 

BadBikaDamo

Arachnoknight
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Call me naive, but I was thinking that this could possibly lead to an easily accessible database for species identification. How many people have bought a scorp or seen one in a shop labled incorrectly or with a useless 'common' name. Imagine if each country or state had an 'expert' in one species who had been out into the field, collected samples, photographed the natural habitat (I have no idea what Arizona looks like for example) and had one of each different genus preserved. It could clean up the whole I.D. process, it would be invaluble for reference (if the data was correct). Looking at the diversity of people from different countries on this forum, it may not be impossible. And as most real experts may not come from the region they specialize in, well they could help purify the information submited.
It was Dave's comments on Kahoy's original post that got me thinking about this, maybe we shouldn't just take peoples word for things, and inteligent people don't mind being corrected if it increases their knowledge. Hence the 'Where it was found and here's a photo to prove it is said sp.' train of thought.

All comments appreciated, I get a bit idealistic at times.

Cheers

Damo
 

skinheaddave

SkorpionSkin
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I've been thinking about it all day and I've come up with lots and lots of reasons why this project would be an absolutely monsterous uphill battle with almost no chance of producing good results. All the arguments can basically be divised into two catagories:

- duplication of effort. How would this be different from Bug Guide? If it were done right, isn't it effectively going to have to slot into the existing scientific framework, in which case why not do it right in the first place?

- dilution of effort. How much work is going to go into creating novel material and how much is going to go into policing the generation of material? Consider the ongoing debate in high-level systematics of scorpions. You have two groups of very, very, very, very knowledgable people with lots of experience and access to a tonne of material. They are absolutely having it out regarding scorpion taxonomy. How would this debate be served if along with the primary papers were published hundreds of papers by amateurs in armchairs who didn't really understand things but were quite happy to battle it out on the 'net?

Don't get me wrong -- there are a lot of very competent amateurs out there and on here and there is a heck of a lot that amateurs can do to help. But how do you allow their contributions to shine amid a pile of your standard 'net gibberish? Isn't it easier to simply insist that these contributions pass an existing peer review structure?

So as a way of collecting novel material, I don't think this has much merit. Since I like lists, however, I will point out some very interesting possibilities that emerge from the big, naive (in BBDs words) dream and might be made to hit the real world.

- clerical work. EAD063 mentioned Eric's page (specifically http://perso.orange.fr/eycb/scorpions/Origines2.htm). It should be noted that this contains no new material. It is basically a reverse lookup of The Catalogue of Scorpions of the World by location, updated with more recent papers. It is, of course, one of the most useful pages on the internet. Jan Ove Rein's site (http://www.ub.ntnu.no/scorpion-files/) is another example of a great resource that merely brings together established material. Both of these men have contributed greatly to the scientific knowledge in other ways .. but their pages succeed in being fantastic contributions to the scientific community, professional and amateur alike, without getting into the trickiness associated with new scientific discovery.

Following this model, there are some possibilities. The first is a more refined version of Origines where things could be broken down into smaller geographical areas. Kari McWest (http://www.angelfire.com/tx4/scorpiones/) and Chad Lee (http://www.geocities.com/redhourglass/scorpions.html) have done this sort of thing to some degree. The key here would be to insist on reliable data and complete citation and notation. And what happens if someone discovers, as kahoy may very well have, that the published data is wrong? Well then they would simply have to get it published before the online database was updated.

Another possibility would be the generation of a universal key. Information could be amalgamated from the published literature so that a key would be generated from Scorpionidae down to species level. It would be really nice to make this a lucid key -- but that does seem trickier to integrate with a system that accepts input from a great number of sources (a la wiki etc.)

I'm not saying that all non-published data would be ignored. Rather, suspect published data and unpublished data could be integrated with a big asterix beside it that gives the reader warning.

- material collection. Taxonomy itself may not be able to operate outside of the peer-reviewed framework, but there may be some hope for collection. There is absolutely nothing to say that informed amateurs can't be responsible for streaming data or specimens to professionals or the very dedicated and knowledgable amateurs who are indistinguishable from professionals. In this case, the efforts of the collectors could be chanelled by those in the know and the collectors would not have to themselves become experts on a particular genus but would instead interact with the more formal scientific circuit in a meaningful way.

- an interest in scientific investigation. There are all sorts of interesting experiments that the amateur can run at home. I'm liking these big dreams of scientific discovery, but have found in my own way that big plans are very hard to execute, whereas there are lots of little studies that can be carried out quickly and easily with very little budget or expertise. I would strongly encourage anyone interested to pursue their dream. I would strongly discourage anyone interested from trying to make it alone or go on without consultation. The scientific process is there for a reason and experimental design is trickier than you might at first think. Once you have a question, however, there is no reason not to look into answering it.

And now I think I've rambled on long enough.

Cheers,
Dave
 

BadBikaDamo

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
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Messages
183
An excellent oversight of the realities of such a project, cheers Dave.
I imagine that over time, ameateurs (I use this word in it's proper scense, proffesionals get paid, ameateurs don't, these terms do not differentiate in levels of knowledge) will be posting maps of their finds, which will be taken by some individual or group and emalgamated, but how acurate the information would be is anyone's guess. A proper undertaking of this magnitude, capable of produceing usefull, acurate information would, as Dave suggests, probably need to be started by the scientific community, possibly compiling the excisting data they already have at their disposal, and regulated by them and affiliated 'experts'. As for the use of this data, I'm sure it would be more then academic, but worryingly, as has been aluded to, it probably would fall into the wrong hands. (We have just had our last breeding pair of Eagles on the Scottish borders devestated by the deliberate killing of the male bird, who knows why?)
I just think that if some one started this project up now, with a good foundation (A Masters project?), we as a community could have some thing really usefull rather than something dubious at best.
One comparible project may be the usefulness of amateur contributions to the archealogical community, but that debate is for a different forum I guess.

On a lighter note, who fancies mapping the Congo in detail? I guess their would be some big holes in the map.

Damo
 

kahoy

Arachnoangel
Old Timer
Joined
Dec 8, 2005
Messages
859
How would you humanley kill a specimen? (the idea does not appeal to me but could prove invaluble)

you can wait for them to die of old age, there are plenty of them (old age) if you are going to hunt at the jungle. unfortunately, we cant tell if its near to its end.

i havent read all, the post so im not still aware. like i said, im quite busy now, i am going to take NCAE exam here by tuesday, its a whole day review, so goodluck for me. :D

:)
 
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