A Virtual Museum on the State's Fish Biodiversity

Specimen Verification

Following completion of both georeferencing and taxonomic synonymization for all records, distribution maps were produced that plotted all georeferenced localities for all taxa. These distribution plots were then examined by project team members familiar with the Texas fish fauna. Any record located significantly far, or in another basin, from the bulk of the taxon's distribution, or likely to be in an inappropriate habitat for the taxon as determined relatively coarsely from maps (e.g. a headwater species in a lowland mainstream river or freshwater species in a marine habitat), was flagged as a potential error in either species determination, locality description, or georeferencing.

After compilation of all potential errors during the geographical outlier detection processes, institutions holding flagged specimens were contacted and loans of flagged specimens were requested or visits by Fishes of Texas Project staff were arranged. Flagged specimens were then examined by Fishes of Texas staff (or sometimes donor institution staff experienced in fish identification) and previous determinations were verified or corrected. In some instances identification to the species level is not possible (especially in the case of very small and poorly preserved specimens) and in such instances specimens are identified to the lowest possible taxonomic level. Additional specimens not previously flagged were sometimes examined opportunistically.

For all specimens examined by our team, determinations and determiner and determination date were recorded on labels placed in the specimen jars and results of the examination were also recorded in our data management database along with identification notes including measurements and appropriate meristics. At the same time determinations were also rated by the determiner for confidence of identification (high, medium or low). As possible, specimens were photographed for inclusion in the Fishes of Texas online photo library. All information recorded during specimen examination is provided in the specimen pages including determination notes, and photographs of jar contents.

The specimen verification process is ongoing. Specimens have not yet been examined for the majority of records in the database and we do not intend to examine all specimens in the database. We indicate which specimens that we would like to examine on the specimen pages. New verifications will be made accessible online as we progress with the verification process.