Discover Life in America

Sorting and Curating Report

Notes on Sorting and Curating -Cheryl Bright and Becky Nichols

Quantity and size of sample.
Address statistical validity of sampling technique.
How do we know we are getting all species?
Stratified sampling: collection method must be consistent
   collection size must be consistent
GPS mapped landscape reference area.
Must have access to equipment.
How do we handle bulk samples?
Protocol for each sampling method:  general and specific protocols.
At University of Tennessee, a proposal for a sorting/extracting center, 8-12 people work sorting samples, use students at Apterygote class.   Collection center will be based on space.
Need a list of most important type of sampling from each group.
Priority listing:  top number of sampling methods from each TWIG.
General protocols for bulk samples and specialized protocols from TWIGS.
Specialized protocols:  ex. Preservatives needed, how to store.
Create a questionnaire for each TWIG to respond to what they need from bulk samples.
How long will samples be stored (Shelf life)?
Figure out sequence of sorting from TWIGS.
Need to track specimens leaving Park.
Provide collector with protocols.  
Bar-coding:  Procedure similar to blood banking.
 Bar codes - tracking numbers.
 Affix bar codes of samples.
 As sample is separated, a bar code is attached with same number.
 There will also be a bar code with same number on data sheet from where sample was collected.
 2nd Tier system - double bar codes, one for sample and one for specimen.
 Bar codes not expensive if bought in bulk.
 Part of expense is setting up the code.
 Buy thermal printer to print bar codes with same number ($2500)
 Bar codes can be used for slides, dry specimens, etc.
More time taken by sorters if bar-coding is not used.
Link other data into bar codes:  GPS, location, etc.
Bar code on data sheet links data  with samples.
Bar codes between species associations.
In some situations organisms must be left together.
If two related organisms are separated, there needs to be fields in database that records this.
Need the most highly efficient sorting center:  need staff.
Specialists need access to sorting center's database through computer access (e-mail, internet, etc.)
Data needs to be entered as soon as it is collected.  This should be a condition of collecting permit.
Download information from specialist=B9s computer or enter from field into main computer at sorting center.
Other specialists can do a query of site and taxa list from their own computer to central computer.
Policy:  If sampling independently, all undesired material is to be sent back to sorting center.
Things get lost, unaccounted for is several sorting stations are used.
Fine sorting needs to be done by specialists.

Curation:  do not have present facilities
NPS system, every specimen given a catalog number.
Not practical to manage all specimens in same museum, just need a represent- ative specimen.
Park should have more endemics and endangered species.
Permits:  allow specimens to be given to institutions.  As of now, specimens found on Federal property must be public specimens. (on loan). &= nbsp;Not private collections.
How much curation Park space is needed?
Must be controlled climate, away from pests.  Need proper facilities.
Is there other uses for excess specimens (bioprospecting, etc.)
Storage space for nonsorted samples (number of freezers, etc.)

Need a model for determining costs to sort and curate
Need to use collections beyond systematics
Ultimate goal is to have collections for future generations to use.
Accept that all material has a value, do not dispose.
Archive unsorted samples.
Sort as much as possible.
Unsorted samples for comparative records.
The more samples sorted, the more space needed.
Sorting priority:  What samples to sort first.  Based on TWIGS.
Allow other people to sort:  Students, volunteers, etc.
At what level can nonprofessionals sort samples?

Need a business plan for each phase of program.
Itemized/Detailed costs.
Start general and get more detailed.
Need input from TWIGS.
In the first year keep it simple.
 Collect everything in alcohol.
How many people are going to sort samples?
Do not overwhelm with mass trappings.
 Pitfall and malaise to start.
Need landscape map of plots.
Need to know how much time and personnel required to sort one sample to family, order, or class.
What can we do with little money?
The greater the documentation and curation of specimens, the more likely another organization or museum will house additional specimens.
Specialists need to commit time and money to pilot project.
Pilot project - focus on particular taxonomic groups.
Major needs at a sorting center:
 1) Trained sorters
 2) 2 or more dissecting scopes and compound microscopes
 3) Bar coding equipment
 4) Databasing equipment
 5) Specimen tracking equipment
 6) Packing and shipping supplies
 7) Curation supplies
 8) Housing
Fastest way to create a species list
 1) Systematist collects and staff at sorting center aids in barcoding and sample processing
 2) One day efforts for local specialists and non-professionals with protocols.
 3) Mass sampling

Idea:  start with 10 families or start with one major collecting techique.
Need a complete proposal to sell idea to larger audience.
Needs to be managable in first year.  Start small.
Immediate plans before sorting begins: 
 1) Collecting plan
 2) Budget of collecting
 3) Facility costs
 4) Pick focal taxa
Sorting cost created by sorting Dr. Pickering's UGA malaise trap samples as an example.
Location labels:  Is GPS in field accurate.
Quality control:  Need feedback from specialists.
Personnel at sorting center.
 1) Registration
 2) Accounting
 3) Distribution and tracking sorted specimens
 4) Sorting
3-4 people needed.
Each TWIG should choose one taxa to work with in pilot project.
Make a list of what is already known and create a new list as species are identified.
Capture existing data into ATBI.  Database what we already have.
Fill the gaps with new things.
Use volunteers, seasonals, full-time graduate and undergraduate students and train in parataxonomy.
Need to know how many bulk samples are going to be taken in the pilot year.
Approximate cost per taxa to sort and curate:  $3.25
Pilot year - Collect in spring, sort and curate in summer
Begin to train sorters in the spring.
Would morpho-species be acceptable in pilot year if unable to key to species?

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