Friday, January 18, 2013

More GBIF specimen identifier strangeness

Continuing the theme of trying to map specimens cited in the literature to the equivalent GBIF records, consider the GBIF record, which according to GBIF is specimen "ZFMK 188762" (a [sic] holotype of Praomys hartwigi).

This is odd, because the original publication of this name (Eisentraut, M. 1968 .Beitrag zur Saugetierfauna von Kamerun. Bonner Zoologische Beitraege, 19:1-14, see PDF below) gives the type (p. 11) as "Museum A. Koenig, Kat. Nr. 68. 7").

The GBIF record includes links to images of ZFMK 188762, such as

Bild pl

If we open this link we see that specimen is listed as "ZFMK-68.7", which matches the original description. "ZFMK-68.7" is a link to, which is the record for this specimen in the SysTax database.

Note that this URL includes the number 188762, which is treated as the catalogue number by GBIF (i.e., "ZFMK 188762"). So, it seems that in the data provided by SysTax the primary key in that database (188762) has become the catalogue number in GBIF (I tried to verify this by clicking on the original provider message on the GBIF page but it failed to produce anything). This means any naive attempt to locate the specimen "ZFMK-68.7" in GBIF is going to fail because the harvesting and indexing as conflated a local primary key with the catalogue number that appears in publications that refer to this specimen.

Sometimes I think we are doing our level best to make retrieving data as hard as possible...