A locality is a specific place associated with one or more Collecting Events.  Ultimately, each locality should be a unique circle in geographic space.  The center is a point defined by latitude and longitude, and the radius is a linear estimate of error.  For electronic mapping, we convert such data to decimal degrees with estimates of error in meters.  Interfaces to the data are more flexible.

A locality has these related elements:

Unfortunately, not all localities are even crudely georeferenced.  Thus much of the descriptive data is hierarchical (e.g., continent, country, state, county, specific locality).  Applying coordinates and errors (georeferencing) to such descriptions is error-prone and even subjective.  Therefore, multiple georeferencing determinations can be applied to a single locality even though only the “accepted” determination is routinely displayed.  Some caveats:

  • A locality documents one or more collecting events.
  • Separate but similar localities may differ only in the extent of their respective errors.  For example, if the specific locality “Barrow” is given for a lemming, it would be reasonable to assume the animal came from right in Barrow, or from somewhere on the limited road system around Barrow. Five kilometers might be appropriate.  If Barrow were given for the specific locality of a bowhead whale, then an appropriate error might be more like 50 kilometers because whalers travel several tens of kilometers.  In both cases, the latitude, longitude, specific locality, and higher geography are potentially identical.
  • There are important differences between a Locality and a Verbatim Locality, though the verbiage may often be the same.

Locality Nickname is a globally-unique human-readable “locality ID” commonly used to unambiguously associate one or more specimens to a locality.

Locality . Spec_Locality
VARCHAR2 (255) null

Specific Locality refers to the locality from which the specimen was collected from the wild, regardless of whether the animal was brought into captivity and killed at a different time and place.  If the wild-caught locality is not known, put the location where the animal died, was killed, or was purchased (e.g., the zoo, aviary, pet store, lab, or market) in the Specific Locality field (see Collecting Events for more details).

  1. When writing Specific Localities, the highest priority should be to maximize clarity and minimize confusion for a global audience.  Do not include higher geography (continent, ocean, sea, island group, island, country, state, province, county, feature) in the Specific Locality unless it references a place-name in another geopolitical subdivision, in which case include that subdivision in parentheses. The following example is located in California.
  • Example: 10 mi below Ehrenberg (Arizona), Colorado River
  • There some situations in which no Specific Locality is given, or no Specific
    Locality would be appropriate. For example, collecting events on the high seas
    which are specified by geographic latitude and longitude.

    • Example: North Pacific Ocean, 45 52′ 24″ N, 165 21′ 48″ W

    Or a collecting event on an island that is specified in the Higher Geography.

    • Example: USA, Alaska, Petersburg quad, Thorne Island

    In these examples, as well as in records for which appropriate data are missing, the correct value for Specific Locality is, “No specific locality recorded.
    (In contrast to a normal locality, this is a sentence and therefore begins with a capital letter and ends with a period.)

  • Do not anglicize words in Verbatim Locality or Specific Locality.  The database supports Unicode, so the limitation is input devices (your keyboard!) or possibly your operating system.
    • Example: Las Montañas del Norte
    • Not: Mountains of the North
    • Not: Las Montanas del Norte

    This standard challenges the flexibility of input methods, but increasingly foreign data can be received in Unicode, and for many editing needs one can cut and paste.

  • Enter Township, Range, Section (TRS), Lat/Long, and elevation data in the separate fields provided for them (see below). Do not enter TRS data in the Specific Locality field.
  • If an obsolete name for a geographic place is given in Verbatim Locality, put the current name in Specific Locality, followed immediately by the obsolete name in parentheses after an “=”.
    • Example: Whistler (=Alta Lake=Mons), N of Vancouver, British Columbia

    In this example, Whistler has historically been known as Alta Lake and Mons

  • Specific Locality should start with the most specific part of the locality and end with the most general.
    • Example:  0.25 mi S and 1.5 mi W Mt. Edith, Big Belt Mts.
    • Not:  Big Belt Mts., 0.25 mi S and 1.5 mi W Mt. Edith
  • Use ‘and’ rather than ‘&’ when describing multiple directions in localities. Do not omit the ‘and’ in favor of a comma or any other separator.
    • Example 1:  Lauterwasser Creek, 1 mi N and 6 mi E Berkeley
    • Not:  Lauterwasser Creek, 1 mi N, 6 mi E Berkeley
    • Example 2:  between Davis and Sacramento
    • Not:  between Davis & Sacramento
  • Do not abbreviate directions when they are part of a place name.
    • Example:  S of West Lansing
    • Not:  S of W Lansing
  • Use ‘of ‘to clarify the intention of a locality description.
    • Example:  S of West Lansing
  • Enter distances in decimals, not as fractions.
    • Examples:  1/2 = 0.5; 1/4 = 0.25; 1/8 = 0.125, 1/3 = 0.33, 2/3 = 0.67
  • Put a “0” before the decimal in distances between 0 and 1 units (e.g., 0.5 mi, 0.75 km).
  • Put a period after an abbreviation unless it is a direction or a unit of measure (e.g., mi, N, yds, etc.).
    • Example:  1 mi N junction of Hwy. 580 and Hwy. 80
    • Not:  1 mi. N. jct. Hwys 580 & 80
  • Do not put a period at the end of the specific locality except as part of an abbreviation.
  • Include parentheses when giving a description such as “by road” or “by air,” and place the parenthetical between the direction and the named place that it modifies.
    • Example:  1 mi N (by road) Berkeley
  • Capitalize “Junction” only for proper names. When not a proper noun, “junction” should be spelled out and followed by “with” or “of.”
    • Example 1:  10 km S junction of Hwy. 1 and Hwy. 5
    • Example 2:  junction of Strawberry Creek with Oxford Ave.
  • Use only the following abbreviations:
    Word or phrase Abbreviation Comment
    yards yds If space permits, spell out non-metric units. E.g.,“yards”
    feet ft If space permits, spell out non-metric units. E.g.,“feet”
    meters m
    miles mi If space permits, spell out non-metric units. E.g.,“miles”
    kilometers km
    east (of) E
    west (of) W
    north (of) N
    south (of) S
    northeast (of) NE
    northwest (of) NW
    southeast (of) SE
    southwest (of) SW
    approximately, about, near, circa ca.
    Highway Hwy. Only as part of a proper noun (e.g., “Hwy. 1”, but not “on the highway”).
    Route Rte. Only as part of a proper noun (e.g., “Rte. 66”).
    Provincia, Province Prov.
    Departmento Depto.
    Road Rd. Only as part of a proper noun (e.g., “Sunset Rd.”, but not “on the road” or “by road”).
    Mount Mt. Only as part of proper noun in which it is spelled out (e.g., “Mount Holyoke”).
    Mountains Mts. Only as part of a proper noun (e.g., Rocky Mts., but not “in the mountains N Lake Tahoe”).
    Number, NÀômero No.
    Avenue Ave.
    Boulevard Blvd.
    United States U.S. e.g., U. S. Forest Service
    University of California U.C. Should be followed by a modifier, e.g., U.C. Berkeley
    Doctor Dr. e.g., Dr. Pearson’s house. Do not use for “Drive” (e.g., “Sunset Drive”).

Locality . Maximum_Elevation
Locality . Minimum_Elevation
– – –
Locality . Orig_Elev_Units
VARCHAR2 (2) null

Elevations are a height above mean sea level.  If elevation data are part of the verbatim locality, they should be entered into Minimum Elevation, Maximum Elevation, and Elevation Units (ft, m).  If the Verbatim Locality contains a range for an elevation, e.g., 500-600 ft, these values should be entered into the minimum and maximum elevation fields, respectively.  If a single elevation is given in Verbatim Locality, put that value in both the minimum and maximum elevation fields.

Locality . Max_Depth
Locality . Min_Depth
– – –
Locality . Depth_Units
VARCHAR2 (2) null

Depths are a distance below the surface of a body of water.  The body of water may or may not be at sea level, e.g., a mountain lake.  If depth data are part of the verbatim locality, they should be entered three fields for elevation: Minimum Depth, Maximum Depth, and Depth Units (ft, m).  If the verbatim locality contains a depth range, e.g., 500-600 ft, these values should be entered into the minimum and maximum depth fields, respectively.  If a single depth is given in the verbatim locality, put that value in both the minimum and maximum elevation fields.

Township, Range, and Section (TRS) information is sometimes given for localities.  If TRS data are part of the Verbatim Locality, they should be entered into the TRS fields associated with Specific Locality in the database.  Legal descriptions to 1 mile square sections have 4 parts: the Meridian, Range, Township and Section.  Note that an official legal description is always written from the smallest scale to the largest.  For example, the NW1/4 SE1/4, sec. 12, T11N, R15E, San Bernardino Meridian is the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section 12, Township 11 North, Range 15 East, San Bernardino Meridian.  This example describes a square 1/16th of a mile on each side.  Collectors often neglect the Meridian in TRS data, and we do not store this information in the database because it can usually be inferred from the state and county.  There are 6 fields in the database to accommodate TRS data: 1) Township, 2) Township Direction, 3) Range, 4) Range Direction, 5) Section, and 6) Part.  In the above example, the data would be entered as:

  1. Township = 11
  2. Township Direction = N
  3. Range = 15
  4. Range Direction = E
  5. Section = 12
  6. NW1/4 SE1/4 (variations on section part may be: SE 1/4, “western half,” NW corner, etc.)

A thorough description of TRS data, along with a tool to translate them to latitude and longitude can be found at the following URL:

Locality . NogeorefbecauseVARCHAR2(255) null

NoGeorefBecause is should always be NULL for localities with coordinate determinations.  Otherwise, it may be used to indicate problems with georeferencing the locality, resources needed to georeference, or anything else about the lack of coordinate determinations.

WKT Polygon provides for a well-known text shape associated with locality data.

Edit Locality Form

Localities used by “verified by….” verificationstatus values may not be edited. If you don’t understand the giant bright red box, please use a contact link.

Many things are paired or dependant. Min, max, and units must be given together for elevation and depth. Coordinates must have datum, source, and protocol. Error cannot exist without coordinates. Fieldset labels on the form will change as form values change to help inform you of these associations.

All coordinates are stored as DD.ddd format. (Verbatim Coordinates are an attribute of Collecting Events.) The form will make conversions.

The webservice data pane has documentation inline. Read it.