A Virtual Museum on the State's Fish Biodiversity

Data Acquisition

Our primary efforts to date have been focused on acquisition of specimen vouchered occurrence records. We made extensive efforts to find and acquire acceptable data and we sent requests to nearly 200 museums and individuals potentially holding fish specimens or thought to have knowledge that could lead to data. From these contacts we requested fish occurrence records collected from within the state and its river basins extending outside Texas, but we had no control over what we actually received. In practice we often received records from well outside the state, in non-Texas river basins and the Gulf of Mexico. Many of those records are included in the final database, but not georeferenced or processed to the same extent as records known from the state.

Since the original receipt of our Track 1 data, between 1997 and 2006, and processing of it, subsequent attempts have been made to acquire more data. In 2009 requests for museum vouchered data were sent to all previous donor museums for new and updated records and 36 additional institutions suspected or known to have ichthyology collections containing specimens from Texas. Twelve of those were found by querying the Global Biodiversity Information Facility for Texas records. Additionally, a “shot in the dark” approach was taken for finding lesser known data providers by contacting 47 members of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists and the American Fisheries Society who have Texas addresses, and 66 biology departments in Texas (mostly small colleges).

These combined efforts proved useful, resulting in an additional 9 donors contributing data: the Canadian Museum of Nature, Bell Museum of Natural History (of the University of Minnesota), the Royal Ontario Museum, the National Fish collection of South Africa, Sam Houston State University, the University of Arkansas, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, the University of Southern Mississippi, and the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory of the University of Texas. We received data updates (or responses stating that no new data were to be had) from all but 5 previous donors. These new data were received between April, 2009 and May 2010. We refer to this newly compiled data set as “Track 2” data. See Institutions Contributing Data to see a comprehensive list of our data donors and when we received their data.

New data tracks of both specimen vouchered and unvouchered data are currently being acquired and developed and the progress of these can be seen in our Data Tracks section.