|Some new lizard species described in 2014|
The Reptile Database (RDB)
is a very useful tool for herpetologists, and they released a new version a few
days ago. The new version lists 10,119
species (including 139 described this year), up from 10,038 in August, 35,615 references (including
1,203 published this year), up from 34,104 in August, which resulted in almost 200 new and changed names.
The site also is importing references for all of the papers published in Herpetology Notes and BioGecko, and they have about a 1000
papers from Sauria now crossed
reference and they can be individually ordered from the RBD.
The RDB Newsletter also noted some selected taxonomic news:
Homalopsidae: Murphy and
Voris (2014) suggested a number of new genera and revalidated a few more,
leading to 28 genera for just 53 species.
Boidae: Pyron et al. 2014
suggested to split the monophyletic boas into multiple families; we did not
follow this suggestion following a discussion with the Scientific Advisory
Board (see below). However, the new suggested families (such as “Sanziniidae)
can be found in the database.
More species and genera split, including Lampropeltis, Blanus, Crotalus
triseriatus, Hemidactylus fasciatus, and Pelomedusa
subrufa. Guo et al. (2014) split the fairly large genus Amphiesma (43
species) into 3 genera. Only Amphiesma stolatum remains in the
The RDB recently constituted
a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) to make general strategic decisions as well a
decisions on controversial taxonomic issues. One of the first recommendations
of the SAB was not to adopt the suggested Boid taxonomy suggested by Pyron et al. (2014, see above). We continue to
consult individual experts in more special cases, e.g. on individual species or
genera. There is a consensus that all published taxonomic changes should be in
the Reptile Database but when it comes to valid names they can only show one
“accepted” name for any given species even if several are in use. Instead of
flip-flopping between names with each new publication, the result will be a bit
more conservative but also more stable. The members of the SAB are listed on a
new page at http://www.reptile-database.org/db-info/sab.html.
|Some new snake species described in 2014|
In order to manage
data curation and data import better, we have started to recruit editors for
Paul Freed and Sven
Mecke are our first volunteer photo editors. They will receive the photos sent
to the RDB, edit them, verify correct identifications with experts, find photos
of species not pictured etc. This will also allow us to process photos faster. Thed
RBD is looking for a photo editor taking care of turtles.
Similar to the photo
editors, RBD is looking for volunteers willing to help with the curation of
papers. Initially we will start with editors for turtles, crocodiles, and
squamate families (or genera if they have a substantial number of species). The
taxonomic editors will receive papers from which they are supposed to extract
information that is relevant for the database such as taxonomic or
nomenclatural changes, new distribution records, or databasable life history
The RBD is asking instructors teaching herpetology or taxonomy to help improve data curation by using it in their
classes. Students could curate papers, edit Wikipedia pages link to the Reptile
Database, ID species, or find and analyze other information. There is always a
large backlog of papers that need to be curated, including simple cases with
new distribution data or more complicated ones. Please get in touch if you are
interested. They have designed a few exercised and assignment for classroom
RDB has a large number of new
photos (>1,500). However, these are added to the database independently of
text, and thus have not been updated yet. This will probably take another few
weeks or so, just in case you do not see the photos that you have submitted. In
any case, more photos are always welcome! Please send photos (with location or
coordinates) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The RDB often use
Google Maps to verify the localities reported in papers. However, Google Maps
shows different maps in different countries. For instance, Google Maps in India
shows Arunachal Pradesh as part of India. However, Google Maps in China shows
Arunachal Pradesh as part of China. The RDB will replace current approximate
maps with “real" distribution maps sooner or later, such details are
important when you search the Reptile Database for geographic areas (or if you
need a list of all Indian or Chinese reptiles). Right now, they treat Arunachal
Pradesh as part of India. Finally, there are different names in different
Google Maps versions. For instance, in the international version you can see
the “Persian Gulf”. However, in Arabian countries it is called the “Arabian
Gulf”. There are a number of other contentious borders or names, so please keep
this in mind when you search the database.
In the course of
history new countries form, such as the new countries that used to be
Yugoslavia or North and South Sudan (which used to be Sudan). However, there
are also new states, such as the new state of Telangana in India, and the
Indian government apparently discusses the creation of another 21 new states
(the current states are fairly new too, many formed in 1956). Obviously, this
can cause headaches in trying to keep tabs on reptiles in those states,
especially when they are species-rich such as those in India. Please let RDB
know if you see discrepancies or errors.
A new web service and
database, http://journalmap.org/ offers a
scientific literature search engine that empowers you to find
relevant research based on location and biophysical attributes combined
with traditional keyword searches. Give it a try.
The RDB does not have funding.
If you plan to submit a grant related to reptile taxonomy or with databasable
information, they are asking members to consider including the Reptile Database
as a subcontractor or collaborator. Or budget personnel to curate data for the