Topic: Species accounts

Fieldwork cancelled due to westerly gales, so time to browse ALS again.
The species page has to be one of the most important on the site and although we may all have different views on the type of content, for what it's worth these are mine.
I though I would choose an iconic Scottish species -  Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos

  • 1. Not sure why the name authority for the species is given as SNH List of Gaelic Names

  • 2. Some very strange species where included in the search results  - in fact there were 80 pages of suggested matches! Sorting out the search alogrithm has to be a priority.

  • 3. Some nice photographs, pity I could only see one at full size (Unable to load image from http://images.ala.org.au/ws/getImageInf … 49425677b)

  • 4. Species description -"An extremely large (30-40 inches) raptor, the Golden Eagle is much larger than the largest North American hawk and is only marginally smaller than the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). With its dark brown body, dull yellow legs, and yellow bill, the Golden Eagle may be difficult to separate at a distance from an immature Bald Eagle". Sorry just lifting text from EOL is not good enough! If you are going to include a description at least make it relevant to the UK and preferably Scotland. This is not the only example I have found. I hope the use of un-edited EOL text was a case of just adding some text as a temporary measure.

  • 5. Biology - not sure that this is necessary

  • 6. Designation -  we have 3 lists of information relating to Scottish designations. This level of detail is not required by most users and if it is to be included it probably does not need to be in full on the main page. Information relating to UK and EU legislation is missing, so is CITES and various other conventions which were included on the Gateway. It really should be there or is this something to do with BREXIT?

  • 7. Gallery - how many images do we need to know what a species looks like? Think of the download speed please.

  • 8. Names/Classification - these two could be combined on the same page - the use of space is profligate and not necessary for clarity. I hope that the listing of synonyms has not been dropped, this is a useful feature in the Gateway particularly in taxa where the nomenclature and classification are changing rapidly.

  • 9. Records - I'm not sure how useful this section is - NBN data is so full of biases it is often very difficult to interpret and I fear some of these visualisations could be misleading. As for the link to records, the point about a list where every record has to be opened to see the detailed has already been made.

  • 10. Bibliography - I am not sure that this is at all useful without a filtering system - there are over 4000 records on BHL relating to this species. Why TROVE - did it come as part of the package?If this section is to be included it either needs a selected list of records relevant to the species in Scotland/UK or a link to BHL.

I'm not sure that the ALS species section is any better than the existing Gateway single page - which provides the core data in a concise form with links to maps and records. Once again ALS is repetitive, a profligate design uses to much space and provides very little additional useful information. I may be in the minority but if I want a species description or photograph I'll get a better result from Google and if I want to do a literature search again I'd probably go elsewhere.
There is nothing wrong with ALS working as a data hub, but it is not necessary to stuff the site with irrelevant information from other sources.

If resources are limited, please concentrate on the basics i.e. providing reliable and good quality access to the records submitted to NBN with state of the art search facilities. The rest is window dressing and if you insist that it is necessary to meet public demand then OK, but add it later please.

I have asked the OHBR team of recorders, who all use NBN Gateway, and their request is for a system which is quick and easy to use, with good interactive maps. Sorry but ALS is not meeting their needs.

We are trying to be positive in our feedback, but to be honest it is a struggle.



Re: Species accounts

Hello Christine

Many thanks for your comments, these will be logged on the development log.

Kind Regards