About the Data

Data Sources Back to top

This website is a data-driven site, with collection and photograph data used to populate the distribution maps and phenology (seasonality) graphs that appear on the species account pages.  The primary area of coverage for this site includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana, and the southern third of British Columbia (south of 52ºN latitude).  However, for species occurring within this geographic area, we also provide data for areas surrounding these limits, including northern British Columbia, western Alberta, central Montana, western Wyoming, northern Utah, northern Nevada, and northern California.  

To date, we have accumulated more than 65,000 data points, drawn from many institutional and private collections. Most of the databasing was performed by Jon Shepard, who has been collecting specimen data from museum collections for over two decades. A list of the collections for which we have data, as well as the people providing the data, can be found on the site credits page. We are always interested in adding data to the site – please contact us if you have data that you would like to share!

Locality Interpretation and Georeferencing Back to top

In most cases, the data associated with a given datapoint is not a verbatim copy of the original label data. For example, as much as possible, we tried to standardize locality names by beginning each with a recognized geographic name.  Thus, 2 miles East of Corvallis, 2 mi. E Corvallis, and Corvallis, 2 miles east were all entered as "Corvallis, 2mE".  This standardizing of the label information was done, amongst other reasons, to make it less time consuming to add latitude/longitude coordinates.  In addition, standard abbreviations were used.  Thus Creek, Cr., and Ck. were all given as Cr.  If Creek, Lake, Mount, etc. were part of a town name, they were not abbreviated.

Only modern specimens had latitude and longitude on the labels, including material at the M.T. James Collection (WSU) that was collected by Richard Zack since 1995, W.F. Barr Museum (UI) material collected in the Snake River Canyon by Frank Merickel, material in the Jon H. Shepard collection that was collected since 1997, and most material in the Lars G. Crabo collection. In addition, several sites that had been collected before the era of using latitude/longitude coordinates on specimen labels were revisited more recently, and thus, historical data from these sites had latitude/longitude coordinates available from the more recent collections.

The Oregon State Arthropod Collection had a significant number of specimens with Township, Range, and Section, as did a smaller number of specimens from other collections. These were converted to latitude/longitude, using the Earth Point website, using the centroid latitude/longitude for the Section or Township/Range. Sometimes, only Township, Range, and Section were provided on labels, with no locality name. In such cases, that was used as the locality name in our database.

The majority of the specimens we databased for this project had neither latitude/longitude nor Township, Range, and Section information on their labels, such as this label:  

The principal sources to obtain coordinates for these records were official Government websites (USGS and the Geographic Names Board of Canada). For localities such as Corvallis, Moscow, Portland, Pullman, Seattle, Vancouver, or Victoria and any label that was within 3 miles of these towns, the official latitude/longitude of the town was used.  Most of these data were for older material, and the city/town boundaries have greatly expanded since the voucher specimens were collected.  For other towns, Shepard was familiar with the historic boundaries of those towns. Distance from the town was calculated from the original boundaries.  Dayton, Wash. data of Robert Miller is an example of such data. Shepard had visited and collected with several of the pre-1970's collectors, and was familiar with their collecting sites.  In cases in which Shepard was unfamiliar with a historical site, Jonathan Pelham was able to supply much useful information.

When the locality was a small stream, the latitude/longitude for the mouth of the stream was given. If the specimens were collected three or more miles from a specific geographic locality, the latitude/longitude was calculated using USA and CAN topographic maps or the DeLorme State Atlases.

Manipulating the Data Back to top

The species accounts on this site are designed to enable users of the site to manipulate the data for each species. Thus, we have established many data filters, so that you can view subsets of the data in a variety of different ways. Applying these data filters will show you the data points on the map that match the criteria you have used for flitering the data, as well as the phenological (seasonal) distribution of those specific data points. Note that for the data filters, you can select more than one choice at a time (e.g., you can select several counties).

  1. The Counties and States filters let you see the data from a particular geographic area.
  2. The Collections filter allows you to see the data from a specific moth collection.
  3. The Voucher Types filter allows you to show only those data points that are based on collection specimens, photographs, literature references, or sight ID/field note records.
  4. Use the Years, Months, and Days filters to show records from specific dates.
  5. Alternatively, try the sliders to view the collection records for a specific range of dates or elevations. These filters are useful for examining whether species have had recent changes in their distribution, or to see the effect of elevation on seasonality.

For another way of viewing the maps, toggle the county borders on or off, using the Counties button on the map. Or, to see the maps in their full-screen splendor, select the Fullscreen button on the map. To view the data for a particular specimen record, simply click on the dot on the map. That will open up an information box (see below, for example), in which you can view information about the site where the specimen was found, the date of collection, the collector, and the collection in which the specimen can be found, and any notes accompanying that specimen.

If you are interested in accessing a large amount of data, please contact the collection manager and/or curator of the collection for which you would like data. Although these collections gave us permission to use their data to populate our distribution maps, we are not free to distribute large data files of specific collection records in spreadsheet format.