Collecting Event


A collecting event is a place and time where collecting occurred. A collecting event often applies to more than one catalogued specimen, so be careful that changes you make to a collecting event apply to all of the specimens.  New Collecting Events are normally created when specimen records are bulk-loaded, but may be created manually, cloned from existing events, and/or given a nickname for easy identification.

VARCHAR(255) null

Event Nickname is a human-readable stable “primary key” to collecting events. Event Nickname may only be created or added in the edit forms; it may not be created during the data entry process. This field is useful for locating pre-created collecting event information, and may be useful when specimens share an event but are not entered sequentially, such as hosts and parasites.

Collecting_Event . Verbatim_Locality
VARCHAR(255) not null

Verbatim Locality is the locality description as provided by the collector and is specific to the Collecting Event, not to the Locality.  The same Locality may have been described differently at different times, and this distinction allows us to incorporate assumptions about the locality into Specific Locality while maintaining the original verbage in Verbatim Locality.  Verbatim Locality may include any locality descriptors as written verbatim in field notes or on a specimen tag – whatever the collector wrote, warts and all.  If the locality is outside of the U.S., include the higher geography as given verbatim by the collector.  Verbatim Locality is not often displayed.

The date of the Collecting Event is expressed in three fields: Verbatim Date, Began Date, and Ended Date.  The purpose of these three fields is to encompass the uncertainty and imprecision inherent in collecting dates as they are often recorded by collectors, and to properly record the duration of Collecting Events that may have been longer or shorter than a single day.

Collecting_Event . Verbatim_Date
VARCHAR(60) not null

Verbatim Date is a transcription of the date provided by the collector. If the collection date is given as “unknown,” then a value such as “before 14 Jan 2005” should be entered. (The time is never completely unknown: We always know that a specimen in hand was collected before the present.)

Collecting_Event . Began_Date
ISO8601, not null
– – –
Collecting_Event . Ended_Date
ISO8601, not null

Began Date and Ended Date delimit the range of dates encompassed by the Verbatim Date.  Unlike Verbatim Date, they are ISO8601 date values, not an indeterminate character string.  If the Verbatim Date is a valid date, then both the Began Date and the End Date should be the same as the Verbatim Date.  If the Verbatim Date is unknown or vague, put the latest possible date in the End Date field (e.g., the date the specimen was received or accessioned), and the earliest date on which the specimen could have been collected in Began Date.  Often this can be assumed on basis of known history, such as the life span of the collector, etc.

The following examples are instructive:

Verbatim Date Began Date End Date Comment
October 14, 1959 1959-10-14 1959-10-14
1907 1907-01-01 1907-12-31 Bracket timespans to some reasonable precision.
1907 1907 1907 It is sometimes possible to pick a began and ended date of the same precision as the given timespan. This is functionally equivalent to the previous example.
Feb 2000 2000-02-01 2000-02-29
early March 1999 1999-03-01 1999-03-15
mid-April 1956 1956-04-11 1956-04-20
late-May 1942 1942-05-15 1942-05-31
spring 1906 1906-03-21 1906-06-20 Assumes temperate northern hemisphere.
summer 1910 1910-06-21 1910-09-20 Assumes temperate northern hemisphere.
fall 1937 1937-09-21 1937-12-20 Assumes temperate northern hemisphere.
winter 00/01 1899-12-21 1900-03-20 Assumes temperate northern hemisphere and beginning of 20th Century.
before 2003 1900-01-01 2002-12-31 Assumes 20th Century or more recent.
between 0100 and 0330 GMT October 30 2012 2012-10-30T01:00:00Z 2012-10-30T03:30:00Z Always include timezone information when it is available.


Verbatim Coordinates are stored with collecting event in their original format with the information supplied by the collector. These are not mapped (although locality coordinates are automatically generated from them via the bulkloader) and generally should not be changed (except, eg, transcription errors).

Specimen Search

“Collected On or After” and “Collected on or before” offer two distinct search possibilities:

  • ISO8601 is a began and ended date search
    • on or after 2013-07-01 will find all specimens collected on or after July first, 2013
    • on or before 2014-06-30 will find all specimens collected on or before June 30, 2014
    • on or after 2013-07-01 AND on or before 2014-06-30 will find all specimens collected BETWEEN and including 2013-07-01 and  2014-06-30
    • Format is defined by the Arctos ISO8601 Standard. Extraneous precision in search terms may exclude desired records.
  • Year, Month and Day are NOT date-parts, but are rather paired search terms. Used singly, they produce much the same results as the ISO functionality: after year=2013 AND after month=01 AND after day=01 is equivalent to after ISO date=2013-01-01. However, when used together, they may produce unexpected results. (This functionality provides search capability which is not inherent in ISO date searches.)
    • On or After
      • Year: 2013
      • Month: 07
      • Day: 01
    • On or Before
      • year: 2014
      • Month: 06
      • Day: 30

will search for specimens which meet ALL of the listed requirements: Specimens from August 31 will not be included (31 is not between 1 and 30), and specimens from January will not be included (1 is not between 6 and 7).