NSF Grant Progress Report
August 10, 1996
NSF Program: DEB-PEET
NSF Award Number: 95-21925
Period covered by this report: March 16, 1996 - August 10, 1996
PI Name: Michael E. Irwin
PI Organization: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
PI Address: Department of Natural Resources & Environmental
University of Illinois
1101 West Peabody Drive
Urbana, IL 61801
Co-PIs: Brian M. Wiegmann, North Carolina State University
David K. Yeates, Universtiy of Queensland
/X/ Continued Funding is Requested
1 & 2 of this report are divided into four parts, the first
three mirroring the overall goals of this PEET grant: A) Use
of Electronic Media, B) Training, C) Monographic Treatments,
and D) Expeditions to Increase the Knowledge Base of Therevidae.
Electronic Media is subdivided into networking, databasing,
interactive keys, and communications, Training into what
is happening at the three collaborating institutions, Monographic
Treatments is treated as a whole, and Expeditions are categorized
by target locality. Section 2 also contains a part (2E) on Expenditures
from the Schlinger Foundation. Section 5 lists new grant proposals
of Progress, including results obtained to date and their relationship
to the general goals of the grant.
1A. Use of Electronic Media. Electronic media,
in many ways, holds this grant together. Computer-based programs
thus provide for expedient and rapid manipulation and management
of data, for assembling data into comprehensive and meaningful formats,
for assessing the validity of data, and for communicating data and
results to interested persons and clientele.
Networking. The taxonomic community has responded
expediently to requests concerning therevid specimens and appears
to be willing to participate in therevid networking activities
planned for the future. There appears to be genuine interest in
developing, as a model, a therevid network that would link specimen-associated
data, taxonomic descriptions, and regional keys to taxa among
systematic collections through the World Wide Web.
Databases. Gail Kampmeier is continuing
to refine the databases that capture label information on therevid
specimens from museums and collections, worldwide. Thus far, nearly
22,000 specimens in over 4,900 lots (unique localities, dates,
and collectors) have been recorded, with the initial concentration
being those specimens from Australia. The specimen-related databases
developed by us require fine-tuning. Participants have been encouraged
to think of the types of output they would like to see from the
databases for use in addressing research questions and for queries
on the WWW. All of the databases feature general and on-line context
sensitive (both field- and database-specific) help. Questions
about anything in the databases are tracked on-line, date and
time-stamped, and so indicated when the question has been resolved.
Major input was requested from participants at the year-one meeting
of our PEET team (see 1E below) for revamping those databases
primarily concerned with literature. For that reason, input of
literature was put on hold temporarily.
therevid specimens on deposit at the University of Illinois from
collections made in Australia, including those from Irwin's most
recent expedition, are now in the databases, and the data from
several genera have been proofed. Students have started to input
label data from the genus Ozodiceromyia and from other
specimens from various collections on loan to us.
preliminary study of time resources required to input specimen
data discovered that students spent an average of 1.7 minutes
per specimen to input label data. The time could be as short as
a couple of seconds (the time it takes to hit "command-2"
and the computer to duplicate a record adding one to the previous
specimen number, if all of the information is the same) to 1015
minutes per specimen when trying to decipher cryptic label information
and/or find localities and coordinates on maps or in gazetteers.
With approximately 880 specimens per drawer, this translates to
about 25 person-hours per museum drawer. Out of an estimated 200
drawers of therevids currently in our possession, about 30% (57)
have been entered. That does not include new material that is
continually being shipped to us from other museums.
number of records entered into the major databases as of 6 August
1996 (not including material entered before this project began)
have purchased a Windows-based version of FileMaker Pro and find
that our datbases function well using Windows 95.
Interactive Keys. Systematists, multimedia
designers and programmers at the University of Queensland and
the Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Pest Management in
Brisbane have developed the LUCID systema computer program
designed for the interactive identification of organisms in a
multimedia environment. The system comprises the key shell itself,
termed LUCID, and the LUCID builder, a program that allows systematists
to quickly write their own interactive keys for use in LUCID.
The program allows the user to begin the identification of an
organism with any character and continue in any desired character
order. Still images, video, and sound may be accessed at any stage
to increase the speed and accuracy of identification. A galaxy
of information, images and other resources may be retreived using
the organism's name as an index or "hook" once the identification
is complete. Efforts are now underway to make the LUCID program
compatible with WWW.
Communications. The family Therevidae is now
on World Wide Web (WWW) [http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/cee/wwwtest/therevid/stiletto_fly.html].
Pages are still under construction but a version of our home page
was available in April 1996 and further updates were made in July.
It presents the family Therevidae, details the objectives of our
PEET research, profiles therevid researchers, and provides minutes
of meetings. We are making considerable progress on linking this
home page to the Tree of Life and other appropriate home
pages. We hope to have an interactive search capability of selected
portions of the databases available on the WWW by the end of 1996.