Small Terrestrial Vertebrates Project Overview


A wide range of projects are being conducted as part of the verts hub. These are listed below, with updates of latest results in the updates section. (note that the projects pages are being developed now, links will appear shortly)


Wiki project pages are underway

Fred Ford has been designing and populating Wiki project pages with considerable help from Garry Jolley-Rogers. An easy to use template is now available to create new project pages. A page allowing details of sequencing and dating samples to be tracked and updated by anyone involved in the project as results come in is also in the pipeline.

Project pages

There have been some project pages kicking around with limited or no information in them, but now that we are hitting our straps in terms of producing some results and sending materials around the continent we need to get the Wikis working properly.

Project pages are hosted in the private vertebrates page to allow free data sharing and disussion with people involved directly in the project. For those who want to be involved in discussions or research on a particular topic, access to pages can be arranged by contacting Fred Ford. Updates to certain projects will be released here in the public updates section.

The project page template combines comments boxes for informal discussion about what’s happening in various aspects of the project and formal sections for text destined for publication. These sections are matched one-on-one so that informal ideas or protocols can be floated and then easily migrated to publishable brilliance. The basic structure of the pages is:

Background: and informal section to give a quick grasp of the scope of the project and where it’s currently at. Use the comments button to quickly enter information rather than going into edit mode.

Introduction: formal introduction to be written as for the final publication. No comments on the existing text are to be made in this section. Go into edit mode and make direct changes to the text if you think they are necessary.

What’s been done so far?: use the comments box to enter informal text that outlines all past methods and results, what worked, what didn’t, and how you think its best to proceed. Figures etc destined for publication should first be placed here for comment prior to migration to the results section.

Methods: Formal text for describing successful methods to be published. Use full edit mode to add or alter text. Figures and tables for publication should be added in the later sections as for a submitted manuscript.

Results: Formal text for final publication after agreement on their suitability following a period in “What’s been done so far”. Use edit mode. Figures and tables for publication should be added in the later sections as for a submitted manuscript.

What does it mean?: A place to float ideas about how to interpret the results, links to relevant publications you might come across. Use the comments box.

Discussion: Formal text for publication. Use edit mode to add or alter text. The discussion text will be more prone to editing and interpretation than other sections, but again, this section is for direct edits and changes to the draft paper, and not for commenting on what should or shouldn’t be in the discussion. Existing passages of text can be deleted, but the decision to do so should probably be made after consultation in the “Discussion topics” section.

Bibliography: format for references to be resolved, add breif notes here regarding sources

Tables and figures can be added to the relevant sections using an attachment button, as can Additional resources.

Micro ct scanner has been ordered

The magnificent 3D x-ray scanner we are purchasing (a Skyscan 1174) that will allow us to make very accurate repeatable measurements of very small skulls and teeth (and so much more) has been ordered for the ANWC. The grant application and purchasing process has been a long one since the original quote in February 2008. The promise of its eventual arrival has delayed morphological analysis somewhat, but the rewards of using the machine and 3D landmark analysis software will be worth the wait. It should arrive in March 2009.

Field data recording system developed

Maragaret Cawsey from the HubRIS project of TRIN has been developing the PDA-based field data collection system for the subfossil component of verts. This allows us to rapidly and accurately record all relevant information about a sample and its collection location while in the field, and have that data automatically synchronised into a database the ANWC server. Sample tracking between different institutions will be based on codes automatically generated by the recording process. Because the majority of material for subfossil work is derived from caves, site names are the same as those used by the Australian Speleological Federation Karst Index Database, which means that samples and sites are unambiguously traceable to a point of origin. This system will remove the vagaries of the “system” we have been using until now, which largely relied on whatever name for a sample sprang to mind first. The next step in the development process is to build in the capacity to deal with laboratory work once samples are brought back to the ANWC. This step raises one of the big issues with the subfossil project- how to link the types of samples we routinely deal with (bulk jars of bones from a species), into the main database system where vouchered museum specimens are individual organisms. This isn’t as trivial a problem as it sounds, but a solution will have wide-ranging benefits for curation of many types of currently unvouchered bulk-collected samples (such as insects from a light trap) that are sub-sampled for individual voucher specimens.

-- MargaretC - 17 Dec 2008