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RSEHN >> Publicaciones >> Bol. R. Soc. Esp. Hist. Nat. 1, 2014 >> Artículos de Investigación

Bol. R. Soc. Esp. Hist. Nat. 1, 2014


Artículos de Investigación

Georreferenciar antiguas colecciones de Ciencias Naturales: de la artesanía a la técnica


Georeferencing old natural history collections: progressing from craft to technology

Francesc Uribe y Miguel Prieto

Bol. R. Soc. Esp. Hist. Nat. 1, 2014

Resumen

Se presentan diferentes herramientas elaboradas en torno al Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona para la georreferenciación retrospectiva de las localidades de recolección de sus colecciones de Historia Natural. En el diseño se ha tenido en cuenta la compleja casuística que acompaña a la expresión de los topónimos y la necesidad de gestionar y suministrar datos de calidad de forma masiva, coherente y eficaz. GeoRef es una aplicación auxiliar de la base de datos de la colección ideada para documentar el proceso de georreferenciación y de los recursos cartográficos utilizados, que proporciona, además, la capacidad de incorporar herramientas vectoriales y de cálculo. Para fijar la posición sobre el mapa se ha utilizado un método universal y de elevada eficiencia como es el modelo del punto-radio, centroide y área de incertidumbre. ¿Dónde se recolectó? es una aplicación que se enmarca dentro de un espacio web (WikiCollecta) concebido para la colaboración entre el Museo y la comunidad de usuarios. Este servicio público permite tanto difundir los propios resultados como recibir comentarios o enmiendas sobre los datos de georreferenciación o la información toponímica facilitada. Por último, mediante un protocolo de georreferenciación masiva se asignan las coordenadas y la incertidumbre obtenidas de GeoRef a topónimos de áreas geográficas con alta densidad de registros de colección. Según las estimaciones publicadas, el procedimiento utilizado permite reducir considerablemente el tiempo invertido por registro.

Palabras clave: Georreferenciación retrospectiva, Colecciones de Historia Natural, Museo de Ciencias Naturales de Barcelona

Abstract

Different tools developed at the Natural History Museum of Barcelona for retrospective georeferencing of the collection localities of its natural science collections are described. Their design has taken into account the complexity linked to the expression of place-names and the need to provide quality data on a mass scale and in a consistent and effective way. The museum’s collection holdings are approaching a million and a half records, equivalent to nearly four million specimens. They cover a timespan of approximately 150 years. The geographical origins stretch to 150 countries, with an abundance of specimens from Catalonia and the rest of the Iberian Peninsula, the Balearic Islands, North Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Ecuador and the former French Indochina. Geographic data from the museum’s collections are mostly of a non-quantitative, descriptive nature. Therefore, retrospective geoeferencing must be applied; it is defined as assigning coordinates based on the textual description of the collection locality. Following standards established by GBIF (http://www.gbif.org/), geographical coordinates in decimal degrees and the WGS84 Datum were selected. To establish the map position of the centroid and the value of uncertainty, the point-radius method, of universal range and high efficiency, was used.

GeoRef is an auxiliary application of the museum’s collection database for the documentation of the georeferencing process, which includes the ability to incorporate vector and calculation tools. GeoRef provides coordinates and uncertainties of georeferenced localities as well as information on the cartographic resources used. Data can be queried in three ways: term search, browsing through the thesaurus, or selection of a polygon in the graphic layer. Each place-name record includes data about authors, identification, type, extension, geographic reference system, datum, conversions, etc. The geographic coordinates in decimal degrees and the associated uncertainty are projected onto the layered cartography. By means of a protocol for mass georeferencing, the coordinates obtained from GeoRef are assigned to geographic areas with a high density of collection records.

Where was it collected? is a web service that is part of the website WikiCollecta, conceived to promote collaboration between the museum and the user community. Queries are made in one of the three ways mentioned for GeoRef. This public service allows Museum to publish their own results and receive comments or amendments related to the place-names information provided or the georeferencing process itself. As a provisional balance, 280 cartographic resources and over 3,500 localities have been recorded in the GeoRef database. The procedures applied considerably reduce the time spent on mass georeferencing, achieving a rate of up to 50 records per hour. These tools ensure high performance and the possibility of exercising active control over the data quality.

In addition to the applications developed by the museum, some alternatives are considered for other situations where such precise accuracy is not as necessary (for example: feeding the museum’s Taxo&Map application for data visualization, or publication in biodiversity portals of datasets that are not yet georeferenced). At present, we are evaluating data loading options offered at Geolocate (http://www.museum.tulane.edu/geolocate/) and the services provided by accessible API’s in cartographic environments.

Keywords: Retrospective georeferencing, Natural History collections, Natural History Museum of Barcelona





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(c) Real Sociedad Española de Historia Natural. Facultades de Biología y Geología. Universidad Complutense de Madrid. 28040-Madrid - e-mail: rsehno@bio.ucm.es