A question concerning the COG database

To: "'Canberrabirds'" <>
Subject: A question concerning the COG database
From: "Chris Davey" <>
Date: Sun, 30 Jul 2006 10:24:20 +1000

I am wondering if anyone can tell me why it is that if I place an ‘x’ for abundance on a COG data entry sheet it is converted to a ‘1’.  What this means is that it is not possible to differentiate a record for a particular species between 1 being recorded and no estimate being given.


This also means that if I want to do an analysis on the data based on presence/absence then I will be able to sort out records where a particular species was recorded but I cannot do an analysis on the data based on estimated abundance.


Up until now the data in the database could be changed by going back to the original data sheets and altering the 1’s back to an ‘x’ but I now notice that this will not be possible if entering data through the new COG on-line data entry system for now you are not allowed to put an ‘x’ in the abundance column.


I can only think of a couple of reasons why it is that this state of affairs has been allowed to happen.


1)         For some computing reason it is not possible to make the abundance column into an alpha-numeric format.  If this be the case then alter the code so that it does.

2)         It is not possible to add numbers together if the column is alpha-numeric.  Fine but all you need is a filter to remove the ‘x’ and then add up the numbers.

3)         Big brother is looking over our shoulder to force us to put an abundance estimate down.  I agree that we need where ever possible to have an estimate of abundance but there are situations where it is not possible and surly better to have an ‘x’ than a ‘1’


None of these reasons I find good enough to corrupt the COG database in such a way that I can no longer obtain a figure that provides me with an estimate of abundance (better called pseudo abundance).  Because I cannot do this what is the point of putting any figures in the abundance column if the data cannot be used?


Unless I can be given a very good reason for this changing of the data I suggest very strongly that the database be altered to allow us to put an ‘x’ in the abundance column.  Not only this, but all the present data in the database must be altered to reflect the differences between a ‘1’ and an ‘x’.


I note though that there is an inconsistency for the ‘x’s are retained for those datasheets that we receive from Birds Australia.


At this point I do not want to get into a discussion about how valuable the estimate of abundance figure is (we can leave that for another day) but I do want a discussion about the data in the COG database being different to what we put down on the data sheets.


Chris Davey


24 Bardsley Place


ACT 2615

Tel: 02-62546324


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