Sunday, May 28, 2006

Australian ants online

The Australia National Insect Collection has an online resource of Australian ants that provides species maps and Google Earth files of specimen distributions.

A potentially useful source of data, but the KML files don't include specimen codes, and there is an unfortunate disconnect between specimen codes and ids used to link to them. For example, in the specimen list for Myrmecia midas, the first specimen has a "MaterialID" of 128315, yet the ANIC accession code for this specimen is 32-012805. Pity this identifier is not made of in the link to the data.

The site also displays specimen metadata as an HTML table -- this information is also available as a CSV file. This is an example where a touch more effort would make it truly useful as a source of data. Something as simple as RDF with the specimen URL as URI would be a big help, but this could be achieved by some judicious screen scraping...

Just realised, the data is served up by GBIF, which makes life much easier.


  • It's great to see our data being used in new ways, it's most welcome. It should be noted that these same data are being served through 8 or 10 different interfaces and this one was never intended for direct computer access. That's partly why we included CSV, XML and KML downloads from these pages. But it would be much better to skip this interface completely and use the DiGIR interface, the same one GBIF, OZCAM and several other groups are using. This interface doesn't use the MaterialID (a primary key in the database holding this data) and instead exposes the Accession Number (which is what you're after). This interface also offers much richer query options including searching by Accession Number as well as all the other Darwin Core fields.

    As for adding a direct RDF interface to our data, no problem. We'll be happy to do it as soon as (1) there is a range of users asking for it (we can't afford to add this for a single user) and (2) the predicates are defined and object formats specified.

    By Anonymous Steve Shattuck, at 1:27 am  

  • Happily, when DiGIR2 rolls out, RDF will be served automatically via LSIDs, which will make the kind of integration I'm after much easier. Until then, I'll roll my own with Darwin Core XML and XSLT.

    I hadn't heard of OZCAM, thanks for the link.

    By Blogger Rod Page, at 9:59 am  

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