What data is provided?

The NZOR infrastructure serves no purpose without good data content. The NZOR content comes from a variety of sources. Currently we have relatively few dynamic content providers and we hope to expand the network. If you believe there is data relevant to NZOR which is maintained up to date, and is in a data management system suitable for consumption by the NZOR data harvester (see how does it work?) then please contact us. NZOR currently attempts to include basic information on all extant and recently extinct organisms, either present in New Zealand (within a defined geographical area such as the exclusive economic zone), or not present but of importance, perhaps as a known threat. The data does not currently extend to names of fossils.

The data harvested by NZOR may include:

  • The preferred scientific name of the organism according to a cited authority.
  • The synonyms of the name according to a cited authority.
  • The position of the name in a higher classification, according to a cited authority.
  • The nomenclatural data associated with each scientific name, author, place of publication, status according to the relevant code of nomenclature.
  • Taxonomic annotations applied to the use of the name, such as ‘c.f.’ or ‘aff.’ which have bearing on the presence/absence status (removed from the name string to facilitate automatic string matching services)
  • The presence/absence of the organism in a defined geographic region according to a cited authority.
  • The indigenous/exotic status of the organism according to the data provider.
  • The biome in which the organism occurs.
  • The English and Māori names by which the organism is known.
  • Literature references which incorporate the name.

Data providers, July 2012

Landcare Research

  • The plant names database associated with the Allan Herbarium includes information on lichens, liverworts, mosses, ferns, freshwater algae and seed plants in New Zealand. Allan Herbarium (2000) Ngā Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plant Names Database. Landcare Research, New Zealand.
  • The arthropod names database associated the New Zealand Arthropod Collection (NZAC).
  • The database of fungal, plant pathogenic bacteria and virus names (NZFUNG2).

Provided to NZOR via hosted or external databases

  • Digitised checklists from the The New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity, Volumes 1,2,3, Edited by Dennis P. Gordon. (excluding plants and fungi)
  • Environmental Protection Agency. Miscellaneous lists including Approved New Organisms, Ornamental Fish and Marine Invertebrates and Animals Approved for Zoos (data being processed).
  • New Zealand Recognised Bird Names database (with modification by E. Spurr, Landcare Research)

The New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity

Of the non-Landcare data-sets by far the most significant is the data from the New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity (NZIB). NZIB data content was created by 255 authors from around the world including representation from most New Zealand research agencies, universities and museums. The completion and publication of the NZIB took a decade and is tribute to the knowledge, dedication, and enthusiasm of its editor Dennis Gordon of NIWA. The three volumes of the NZIB represent a snapshot in time of the extent of New Zealand’s biodiversity. The volumes include a broad scope of information on our biota and they also include species checklists. These checklists are an important dataset for NZOR.

The NZIB checklists were prepared by contributors as word processor documents and subsequently edited and published. To enable that content to be used by NZOR it was necessary to scan and use OCR (Optical Character Recognition). That version was then parsed into a standard data types and imported into a structured database which supplies data to NZOR. It is inevitable this automated process will have resulted in transcription errors and we will remove them as and when we discover them.

The challenge for the NZOR data providers is to keep those checklists up to date in an appropriate data management environment. As mentioned elsewhere, the names of species do not remain static, and new organisms are being discovered all the time (both new to science and new to New Zealand but known elsewhere). Even by 2015 the NZIB checklist content has already become dated. Many taxonomic sectors are not continuously revised and available to NZOR. In addition NZIB checklists were necessarily restricted in coverage. They included only the preferred name for a taxon (as known at the time of checklist preparation) and do not include synonyms. The source of taxonomic opinion is not linked to each name. NZIB only covered naturalised taxa, and not for example the 20,000 exotic plants in cultivation, or animals in captivity.