Contract with The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, December, 2005

For the development and continuing
service-support of online systems for the
"Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific"
and "Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean"

Contract between
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
The Polistes Foundation

John Pickering
University of Georgia, Athens

December, 2005

Forcipiger flavissimus
Illustrated by Cheryl Reese

Forcipiger flavissimus Jordan & McGregor, 1898
Long-nosed Butterflyfish

Updated: 7 March, 2006

D. Ross Robertson of STRI and his colleagues have assembled information on the shorefishes of the tropical eastern Pacific and Greater Caribbean that was used to publish, in 2002, a CD-ROM entitled "Shorefishes of the tropical eastern Pacific: an information system," Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Panama (ISBN 9962-614-02-3). That publication, which covers 1,195 species, provides users with identification guides, maps, images, species descriptions, analytical tools, and related content for the shorefishes of that biogeographic region. The 2005 version of that CD covers ~1250 species. D Ross Robertson and James van Tassell are currently working on "Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean, a resource for research", a companion work to the 2002 system for the shorefish fauna of the Greater Caribbean (Bermuda and Florida to Trinidad), which will cover ~1,600 species. Future plans include equivalent systems for Brazil, Venezuela and Panama.
To enable the information and analytical capabilities of the set of systems on neotropical fishes to be distributed widely and used freely throughout the world Discover Life will make the information provided by Robertson and his colleagues on the Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific (SFTEP) and the Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean (SFGC) available on its website (and on a mirror website at STRI when the necessary hardware becomes available). That information and analytical capabilities will be provided through two autonomous systems within the Discover Life website, systems that operate in the same general format and have the same general interface structure as the SFTEP CD-based system.

Work to be undertaken by Discover Life under this contract:
SFTEP and SFGC are tightly linked projects and represent the first two stages in a series of systems on the Shore-fishes of the Neotropicas. Discover Life will develop a common means to assemble and serve the information and provide the analytical capabilities of both SFTEP and SFGC. The information and data from D Ross Robertson's Access databases, contributed images, and maps from the Smithsonian Geographer geographic-data management program will be integrated into Discover Life's tools to make all the information and functions of the 2002 CD, together with some enhancements of analytical capabilities, available on the Web for both SFTEP and SFGC. Discover Life will also provide a user-friendly and secure online data-management system for use by STRI for this suite of neotropical fish information systems.
An overview of Discover Life's goals and the technical tools that will be used is provided at the prospectus available at
The stages of work under this contract by Discover Life are as follows:

  1. Taxon lists -- make and present taxon authority lists for SFTEP and SFGC that include species, genera, families, and higher taxa.
  2. Images -- process and manage images for species pages and the identification guides of each region.
  3. Species/genus and family pages -- add the descriptions, attributes, and other information to English (and Spanish for SFTEP) taxon pages.
  4. Identification guides -- build easy-to-use on-line IDnature guides to the species of each region.
  5. References -- manage and add references to the species, genus, and family pages.
  6. Credits -- ensure that contibutors are credited and that appropriate copyright statements appear with photographs and other material.
  7. Links -- add links to Fishbase, Catalog of Fishes and other Web resources for each species.
  8. Home pages -- develop homepages for each system, making sure that users can easily find those homepages and content from within both the Discover Life and STRI Websites.
  9. Collection databases -- include specimen records for mapping information from databases such as the Smithsonian's fish collection.
  10. Maps -- display maps containing "painted" range distributions (from Smithsonian Geographer's .dat files) and specimen record points.
  11. Analytical tools -- enable users to use the Global Mapper to query maps for species richness, endemism, and other variables.
  12. Export lists -- allowe users to export species lists from areas specified by users with the Global mapper.
  13. Usage statistics -- provide STRI with access to statistics from Discover Life's Web server logs to allow monitoring of SFTEP and SFGC usage.
Schedule of work by Discover Life
1. For the SFTEP online system Discover Life will accomplish Steps 1-8 by 5 April, 2005, and will have all the required content and analytical functionality for species for which information is available completed by 30 June, 2006.
2. For the SFGC online system, Discover Life will include all the information made available by 15 June, 2006, and will train and support Ross Robertson and others so that they can add more fishes and edit information in both online systems thereafter.
To ensure that this schedule is met D Ross Robertson must provide Discover Life with technical documents relating to "Smithsonian Geographer" geographic-data management program and data produced by that program in a timely manner so that those deadlines can be met. If D Ross Robertson fails to provide such information in a timely manner, The Polistes Foundation reserves the right to deliver the product late but on the same payment schedule.

Continuing services to be provided by Discover Life and the Polistes Foundation under the contract and Legal considerations concerning those services and ownership of software code:
Discover Life operates under the legal umbrella of The Polistes Foundation, a 501-c-3 non-profit organization based in Massachussets (see Under this contract STRI has all the same legal guarantees and rights as the United States Geological Survey (USGS)-NBII has under its 5-year cooperative agreement with the Polistes Foundation. That agreement and this contract legally bind both parties with regard to the use of the Polistes Foundation's software and services. That cooperative agreement and this contract ensure that content providers (STRI in the present case) and users will be able use Discover Life's services forever. In the event that The Polistes Foundation fails to be able to maintain Discover Life, the Website will be transferred to another agency or non-profit organization. For 2006, the relevant section about Discover Life's computers continuing to serve NBII and others is specified at
The USGS-NBII cooperative agreement with the Polistes Foundation addresses ownership of source code and content. It protects the rights of photographers and other sources that allow use of their material. The Polistes Foundation, Inc. owns the software that will be used by the online editions of SFTEP and SFGC, and has licensed that software to Discover Life for that usage, in perpetuity without cost. STRI has no ownership rights to the software source code used by Discover Life and cannot use Discover Life's software or other content for commercial purposes without written permission from The Polistes Foundation. Use of Polistes Corporation software is free for applications that fall within The Polistes Foundation's and Discover Life's missions, which includes SFTEP and SFGC.

Budget and schedule of payments
The total budget for the SFTEP and SFGC projects is $50,000 with the following payment schedule from STRI to The Polistes Foundation:

  1. $15,000 -- by 30 December, 2005 -- up-front start-up funds
  2. $15,000 -- 5 April, 2006 -- on completion of Steps 1-8, including identification guides and species pages for which information is made available by 15 March, 2006.
  3. $20,000 -- 30 June, 2006 -- on completion of Steps 9-12, including mapping and additional species pages for which information is made available by 15 June, 2006.

Technical Representatives
STRI's technical representative for this Agreement/project will be D Ross Robertson. The Polistes Foundation technical representative for this Agreement/project will be John Pickering.

Final Agreement
This Agreement shall constitute the final understanding of the parties on the subject matter hereof. This Agreement may be modified only by a further writing signed by the parties.

This Agreement may not be assigned by any Party without the prior consent of all other parties and, subject thereto, this Agreement shall be binding upon the Parties and their respective successors, heirs, executors and assigns.

Choice of Law
This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with federal law and the laws of the District of Columbia, regardless of place of execution or performance.

Any notice regarding this Agreement must be presented in writing and delivered to the following addresses:

  • Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
    Avenida Federico Clement, Edificio 401, Ancon.
    Panama City, Republic of Panama
    P.O. Box 0843-03092, Balboa, Ancon.
    Attention: Ross Robertson
    Phone Number (507) 212-8704
  • The Polistes Foundation
    133 Washington St.
    Belmont, MA 02478
    Phone Number (617) 484-6490
    Fax Number (507)

Delivery can be executed by fax. Said written notice will be valid if reception is confirmed by phone or by any other means. If written notice cannot be faxed then it shall be sent by mail. In this last case, reception of written notice will be considered to have taken place fifteen (15) days after the date when mailing was carried out.
Notice given in any different way than those stated before will not have any binding effect.

A failure, delay, relaxation or indulgence by either Party in exercising any right or power conferred on the Party by any term or provision of this Agreement shall not operate as a waiver of said power or right. A single or partial exercise of any right or power hereunder does not preclude the further exercise of the same right or the exercise of any other right hereunder. A waiver of a breach does not operate as a waiver of any other breach.

If any part of this Agreement is held to be invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, then;

  1. Where the offending provision can be read down so as to give it a valid and enforceable operation of a partial nature it must be read down to the extent necessary to achieve that result; and

  2. In any case the offending provision must be severed from this Agreement the remainder of this Agreement shall continue in full force and effect unless such reading down or severance affects the basic nature of this Agreement.

STRI is recognized by the government of the Republic of Panama as an International Mission. Therefore, in the event of any dispute or controversy arising out of this Agreement, its terms or its interpretation, a good faith effort shall be made, to try to settle it amicably, in the spirit of mutual cooperation. In the event an amicable settlement cannot be reached, the dispute shall be settled through good faith discussions between representatives of the Polistes Foundation and STRI's Office of the Director, or his representative.

Anticipated Termination
This Agreement may be terminated without cause by either party prior to its termination date, by giving to the other party at least thirty (30) days prior written notice. The Parties agree that upon termination, regardless of who initiates the termination, the Polistes Foundation will be guaranteed as compensation for its work an amount that reasonably reflects its actual contribution up to the moment of the actual termination.

Termination for Cause
Any party to this Agreement may terminate it if the other party violates any terms herein, and said violation is not corrected by the infringing party within fifteen (15) days upon receiving proper notice in writing. Notice of termination must be given in writing and no judicial resolution will be necessary.

Intellectural Property
All the information contained in the SFTEP and the SFGC belongs to its authors. Except as provided for in this Agreement, the Polistes Foundation shall not refer to the Smithsonian Institution, STRI or to any of its facilities or programs for any purpose, without prior approval in writing.

Appendix 1: Details of information and analytical capabilities to be included in the SFTEP and SFGC online system

  1. General introduction to each system: Include an introduction to the systematics, zoogeography, biology and ecology of the fauna; a description of the system's characteristics; a user-guide.
  2. Language interfaces. Both systems will have dual language interfaces (English and Spanish), although SFTEP will be the only one to employ both interfaces until data have been translated into spanish for SFGC.
  3. Information on fish taxa will be provided through interlinked species, genus and family pages that will be readily accessible to users(i) by moving within a taxonomic level (between ordered pages or by using a name search), (ii) from any point within an expandable systematic tree (which can be alphabetically or systematically ordered using scientific or common names), or (iii) from within a "Book mode" (species within genera within families). Each Family and Genus page will include text; a database map of the taxon's regional distribution (assembled from the distributions of component species); a list of component genera and species with links to their pages; an image of a representative species that has a key-feature overlay indicating critical diagnostic features; and links to designated similar taxa.
    Species pages additionally will include multiple images of dissimilar life-stages (e.g. juvenile, female/male, color morphs); the ability to simultaneously view images of multiple designated "similar species"; links to species-attribute data in databases.
  4. Glossary. A glossary will employ images + text explanations of scientific terms relating to morphological characteristics used in the identification of fishes.
  5. Tools for identification. These will facilitate the identification of species using the following:
    • Interactive online identification tools developed by Discover Life that use data on morphology, habitat and geographical location (on a database map
    • Taxon-image comparisons: simultaneous comparison of images of either (a) designated similar taxa or (b) any families, genera or species
    • Common-name searches from lists of species, genus and family common names
  6. The Zoogeography Engine will provide quantitative, exportable data about the composition of local faunas and faunal zoogeography. This engine will use data produced by the "Smithsonian Geographer" program.
    This engine will have five analytical features for the calculation, display and export of data:
    1. Species-range and location data: two types of data will be included on map displays - two dimensional range-limits maps showing the regional range; and dot-maps of collection/observation sites, with user ability to access information about the source and characteristics of dot data. Based on the range-limit maps, species-range characteristics (range-area, latitude/longitude of range limits and center point) will be calculated and displayed in the species databases.
    2. Range comparisons: overlaid displays of the regional-ranges of up to 5 species/genera/families.
    3. Faunal list generation: Exportable family/genus/species lists (Text/Excel files, with alphabetic or systematic ordering) will be generated for locations at scales ranging from points, through countries and provinces to the entire region. Users also will be able to mouse-define a "location" as a quadrangle of varying shape and size. These lists include single-location lists and lists of taxa found/not-found at two locations. Multi-attribute query capacity (i.e. the capacity of the Database Search engine of the SFTEP CD system) will be fully intergrated with this map list-maker, to provide multilevel data on faunal composition at differing use-defined spatial scales.
    4. Regional patterns of species richness: Users will be able to generate exportable color-coded database maps showing variation in species richness throughout the region (richness of families, or of species sharing one or more attributes). These will include displays of both absolute richness (number of species) and relative richness (the % of the fauna in each section of the region that is represented by species of a selected type).
    5. The Endemism indicator will provide a exportable list of species found only within one or two locations
    6. Generate new queries Using webforms, users will be able to modify existing inbuilt queries in order to generate new ones.
  7. Integrating SFGC and SFTEP: Two capacities will be included that begin the process of integrating the zoogeographic engines of the two systems: the ability to assemble lists of (i) sister taxa (species/genera/families) from both regions, and compare taxon pages of such sisters; and (ii) members of the two regional faunas that share selected biological attributes.
  8. The Library. Citations in the bibliographic databases will be linked to species/genera/families and sites. Users will be able to assemble exportable lists of citations relevant to selected taxa, authors, dates and sources, sites [relating to species occurring at a map "site"] and of species referred to by a citation.

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