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Abstract Detail

Bryological and Lichenological Section/ABLS

Nash, Kimberly [1], Gilbert, Edward [2], Nash , Thomas  [3].

Converting Printed Lichen Descriptions into a New Versatile Database Format.

Through the extensive work of 92 contributors, the Lichen Flora of the Greater Sonoran Desert was published in three volumes and contains over 1800 lichen species descriptions, as well as ca. 170 lichenicolous fungal descriptions of the Sonoran Desert region. While the descriptions are rich in factual information, they are organized as a traditional reference guide. Thus, the vast power of the descriptions in a database format has not yet been tapped. The Symbiota program as utilized by the Consortium of North American Lichen Herbaria (CNALH) websites provides an outlet for this information in database format that will be most effective in serving the lichenological community. Symbiota integrates lichenological collections and description data with various web tools for both amateurs and professionals working in the biological arena. Through various steps of natural language processing, the species descriptions from the printed flora are being converted into a database format that is then uploaded for use on the CNALH website. Beginning with a pdf file and after several file type transformations and application of global replacement rules, formatted text is run through a parsing script built on the fact that the text is highly structured into bolded keywords followed by the description for each keyword and employs training information which is being built up during the process. The parsed information can be imported into MS Excel for more manual editing and then into a database. Some manual editing was necessary due to the fact that bolding of keywords is not perfect and some random bold tags appear in the text. The end result is a database containing separate fields for the species name, the keyword, the description, and a sequence counter to maintain the original sequence in which the keywords are displayed.

Broader Impacts:
Taxonomic descriptions are often repeated from publication to publication. By creating descriptions in an on-line database, duplication can be largely eliminated.

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1 - Wheaton College, Economics, 26 E Main St, Norton, MA, 02766, USA
2 - Arizona State University, School of Life Sciences, B0x 874501, Tempe, AZ, 85287-4501, USA
3 - Arizona State University, School of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 874601, Tempe, Arizona, 85287, USA


Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Hall A/Convention Center
Date: Monday, August 2nd, 2010
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PBL004
Abstract ID:263

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