HISCOM 2004 AGM Christchurch

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The 2004 HISCOM Annual General Meeting was held in Christchurch, New Zealand from Monday 18 – Wednesday 20 October, 2004. The meeting venue was Landcare Research, Lincoln. This document represents the minutes of the meeting.


  • Bill Barker (Department of Environment and Heritage, South Australia)
  • Peter Bostock (Environmental Protection Agency, Queensland)
  • Barry Conn (Royal Botanic Gardens, New South Wales)
  • Ian Cowie (Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment, Northern Territory)
  • Peter Neish (Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, Victoria)
  • Ben Richardson (Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia)
  • Larry Speers (GBIF, Denmark)
  • Greg Whitbread (Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Capital Territory)
  • Aaron Wilton (Landcare Research, New Zealand)


  • Larry Speers was invited to present the GBIF position in the Australasian context.
  • GBIF needs publicly accessible geo-referenced gazetteers of collector’s names and numbers.
  • Donald Hobern can provide hit results back to GBIF provider institutions, and is looking for feedback on the format of this hit summary.
  • The iPlants project is looking to determine conservation status of vascular plants worldwide. Larry thinks it would be easier to choose a single family/genus worldwide that people would be happy to make public for this project.
  • The staff, time, infrastructure costs can usually be used in a GBIF funding proposal as in-kind costs.
  • GBIF very interested in repatriation of specimens. Recognises the lack of curators in European herbaria.
  • ECAT is a names-based project.
  • GBIF considers itself a phone book to local resources.
  • The conservation assessment project (iPlants) may help create a checklist of sensitive taxa/specimens to filter records at the GBIF Portal level.
  • Interested to know of any initiatives that would help at the global level.

2003 Minutes

Table 1. Actions from 2003 Minutes
No. Item Who Last Update
2003 Action 1 Peter Neish to send HISCOM archive to Greg Whitbread who will merge with current archive Peter Neish, Greg Whitbread Accepted, but not yet done
2003 Action 2 Ask Barry Conn if the HISCOM web site should be moved to a server to enable collaborative management (eg Sourceforge). Greg Whitbread, Ben Richardson Barry Conn accepts need. Greg proposed an investigation of CMS systems before considering moving the current site.
2003 Action 4 Continue to discuss exchange data quality issues on HISCOM-L. All Discuss exchange data quality issues on HISCOM-L. Arose between BRI and NSW. True solution is to be discussed.
2003 Action 9 Place common set of layers on to MEL cvs server: coastline, rivers, major towns, IBRA regions, satellite regions, topography, temperature, rainfall, roads, lat long grid. All PN suggested additional stuff to be added.
2003 Action 10 Peter Bostock to post BRI Mapper to Sourceforge or MEL CVS site. Peter Bostock Problem with licensing, PB to place on MEL CVS
2003 Action 11 Ask David Cumming (BRI) to implement suggested change to telephone subroutine to enable authentication of private data providers. Peter Bostock Done
2003 Action 15 Ask Paul Gioia if he would be prepared to put PERTH data validation routines on to the Sourceforge web site. Ken Hill Ken Hill asked, but nothing came of this. Considered closed, and won’t be brought up again.
2003 Action 16 Post ABIF-Flora schema on the Sourceforge web site Greg Whitbread Still to be done. Site renamed to ABRS-Flora in lieu of ABIF issue.
2003 Action 17 Post to HISCOM-L when the ABIF flora site goes live Robyn Lawrence Still to be done.
2003 Recommendation 6 As a first step, provide information about plant names on the front page of the AVH with links to sources of information (eg APNI, Florabase, state census lists etc.) as a guide to refining the list of names you wish to query on. Progress happening. Discuss further under Consensus Census.
2003 Recommendation 7 On the ‘curation level’ AVH site provide a mechanism to query state census databases to return status and synonymy of the name. This information could then be used to query the AVH, or used as a curation tool. Progress happening. Discuss further under Consensus Census.
2003 Action 18 Compile a list of attributes used to indicate relationships between names eg. Types of synonymy – send to Greg Whitbread All Still to be done.
2003 Action 19 To develop a standard for sharing census data (possibly as an extension of HISPID) based on the above list, and taking into consideration any outcomes from TDWG names sub group All Discussion further under Consensus Census and AVH.
2003 Action 20 Each HISCOM representative to ensure that their institution has a mechanism to load exchange data (eg. a holding database) as appropriate for their institution All Done (for those with this need).
2003 Action 21 Create ARM-L email list with P. Kodela as administrator Greg Whitbread Done.
2003 Action 22 All HISCOM members to inform their AVH coordinators about the existence of the list and how to subscribe All Done.

All other actions were considered done.

Note: BRI has made its AVH Provider available. This is a great step forward, and BRI should be congratulated for its efforts.

Consensus Census

CHAH (around 2000) agreed we would move to a Consensus Census. CC is driven by AVH. Working Group involved BB, NGM and JRC. Greg Leach was added. A procedural sequence for resolving census issues was developed, in which CHAH would be involved where taxonomy could not be resolved.

HISCOM should make a recommendation about how the CC should work. HISCOM should make recommendation on how to improve the usage of APNI in the service of the CC. CC is What’s Its Name with additions. TDWG’s Taxonomic Concept Schema (TCS) will enable CC data to be interchanged between APNI and individual states.

It is currently difficult to access federal Conservation Status information.

Vernacular names are a difficult data source, including spatial, temporal and cultural components. Naturalised names are a problem. Survey teams often know more than taxonomists. What rule sets are out there that define the categories of weed? We should note that introduced/naturalised/natural name information is also a multiple component issue.

Recommendation 1

That CHAH endorse APNI as the appropriate central repository for the Consensus Census.

Recommendation 2

To streamline name/concept management, that CHAH support the development of an online interface to the Consensus Census.

Recommendation 3

That CHAH support the Consensus Census being upgraded so that multiple taxonomies may be compiled and managed online.

Action 1

That CANB expedite the provision of online access for modifying APNI and the developments approved in the recommendations above. [Greg Whitbread]

Action 2

That MEL/CANB develop an interim protocol that can be extended to other herbaria for transferring and updating state census data to APNI as a taxonomic view. [Peter Neish, report at next teleconference]

Recommendation 4

That DEH/CANB ensure federal Conservation Status information is linked to APNI to facilitate identification of rare and threatened taxa in delivery of specimen-based data from AVH pending completion of the Consensus Census.

Recommendation 5

Additions and changes to taxon circumscription should be accompanied by a Recommended Conservation Status to facilitate the communication of information to DEH and other agencies.

Issue 1

Develop rules for handling different levels of identification as well as different taxonomic concepts. When a species is identified by one herbarium to subspecies and in another only to species, this issue develops when the data is combined for AVH, and should be handled for the Consensus Census.

Recommendation 6

That there are opportunities for other client groups such as biosecurity, weed authorities, to invest in the Consensus Census as the basic source for the taxonomy of Australian plants.

General HISCOM Processes

Action 3

HISCOM to meet 4 times per year, 3 of which are teleconference meetings timed to occur a number of weeks prior to the CHAH teleconference to allow answers to filter to the CHAH teleconference. [HISCOM]

AVH Data Capture

Figures are not comparable across institutions.

Latest AVH data capture figures are available online.

The concept of a validated record is not agreed between states.

It is likely that only records that occur on mainland Australia or Tasmania will be included.

AVH Enhancement

Early Warning System in current design version (0.1) is too complex to be delivered within the available funds ($40,000 + extra $20,000). A revised EWS should include only “Phase 2 – Date Range change of occurrence” with the modification that the rectangles are 6 minutes square.

Recommendation 7

That CHAH note the implications of the Australian Government’s GBIF MOU giving free access to data through the public AVH interface.

Recommendation 8

That CHAH note the GBIF view that custodians cannot be bound to embargo sensitive data from another jurisdiction, but can only endeavour to do so. There is no perfect IT solution at the moment.

Action 4

For the set of CHAH-endorsed AVH fields in the first instance, determine the level to which atomisation of these fields will be necessary to ensure clean data provision to the AVH process. [Barry Conn, next teleconference]

Action 5

Attempt to parse BRI’s Full Label Text field to enable separation of locality data from the other data (i.e. habitat, habit, frequency). This process along with Action 1 should inform the Data Cleaning module of the AVH Web Enhancement project. [Ben Richardson, next teleconference]

Action 6

Place Rex Croft’s HISPID Parsing software on the MEL CVS repository. [Peter Neish]

Action 7

Document proposed changes to existing EWS Technical Design draft with a view to simplifying the solution. This should enable the project to be completed within the time frame and funding. [Greg Whitbread]

Agreement 1

That all Australian herbaria agree to implement ABCD 1.2 providers to facilitate AVH development and custodian registration with GBIF. In the absence of similar restrictions in ABCD, HISPID usage should prevail.

HISCOM-L List server problems

“Too Many Hops” errors continue to be the source of delivery problems, on HISCOM-L, HISCORE-L and CHAH-L.

Action 8

That the list server problem(s) be resolved by the first HISCOM teleconference. If it is not fixed by then, consideration of other options will be made. [Greg Whitbread]

HISCOM web site issues

Action 9

Find out if others can get editing access to the HISCOM web site on PlantNET. [Barry Conn]

NSW Node Portal

NSW currently no longer provides a Portal at their node. Barry asked whether this should change. It was suggested that the technical design for the Portal allowed for fewer Portals in the AVH.

GBIF Implications

No notes taken.

New Zealand linkages

CHAH is looking for closer linkages with New Zealand. NZ would be interested, although the funding would be necessary. A benefit will be access to international funding at GBIF. What questions could be answered by the public view?

Algal data for NZ might be more accessible. South Pacific initiatives, and data repatriation might be better supported by this move.

New Zealand has an extra set of platforms in use, and this must be recognised. GBIF standards avoid this issue. Caveat that NZ wait until (or help fund) the full Java redevelopment phase of AVH is completed. Caveat of involvement in the Consensus Census.

Recommendation 9

Confirm previous recommendation that an alliance with New Zealand in the AVH is broadly beneficial to both parties. Technically, the caveats noted above should be taken into consideration.

Recommendation 10

That CHAH be made aware that there may be opportunities for GBIF funding for any project making innovative use of TDWG standards.

Software Licence Agreement for Java/TexAPI code

Action 10

HISCOM resolved to have the Summary and the CSIRO Software Licence Agreement documents tabled at CHAH. [Ben Richardson, completed]

CHAH Incorporation

Recommendation 11

That CHAH be aware that their incorporation is useful so that open source software licences can be attached to a formal body.

APNI as a resource

Action 11

All HISCOM members to show their CHAH head and interested staff the draft version of APNI’s XML output to web pages. The context is that we are trying to sell APNI as a tool for building state censuses. [HISCOM, next teleconference]

Go to http://www.anbg.gov.au/pkey/ and use “&xml-stylesheet=none” on the end of a search URL to see raw XML, which (for example) might be used dynamically to pull descriptions into a state census.