Orthoptera Species File (Version 5.0/5.0)
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About the Orthoptera Species File


The Orthoptera Species File is a website and a database created specifically to provide a source of taxonomic information for researchers and others working on Orthoptera, and to provide software useful for other taxonomic groups.  The underlying structure of the website and database has now been extracted from the Orthoptera application and is available for use in other taxonomic groups.  This underlying structure is called the Species File Software.  Information about the design and use of SFS may be found at http://Software.SpeciesFile.org.

This page covers the goals and objectives, justification, history, and future plans for the OSF database and website.  Statistics about the quantity of data and information about participating in work on the database are on separate pages.

Goals and objectives

The core purpose of the Orthoptera Species File (OSF) is to provide a resource that makes taxonomic research on Orthoptera more efficient.  This has been accomplished, but it requires continual maintenance to add results of new research, to fix errors, and to add new features.  Work has been extended to serve other users, especially persons who want to identify specimens and to learn more about specific taxa.

OSF has served as the test case for the Species File Software.  Orthoptera is particularly well suited as a test case for databases of this type because the group has a long history with many nomenclatural tangles and many evolutionary relationships still needing resolution.  This provides a useful contrast with other test cases where the taxonomy is so well known that database development focuses on details beyond the reach of most taxonomic groups.  Orthoptera is large enough that successful peformance will demonstrate the feasibility of large-scale implementation that will help raise less studied groups toward standards applied to well studied groups.  SFS is now ready to be applied to other organisms subject to the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.

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Justification

While the purpose of the OSF database is to provide taxonomic information on Orthoptera and is geared toward the working taxonomist or systematist, the value of OSF is not limited to these researchers.  Rather, the literature citations, keys, images and other data in OSF reflect innovative approaches to describing and understanding the world’s Orthoptera of potential interest and importance to researchers in many fields.  Additionally, the importance of Orthoptera in terrestrial ecosystems throughout the world means there is information of value to resource managers, policy makers, educators, and others concerned with biodiversity conservation.  OSF is continually enhancing the quality and delivery of taxonomic information on Orthopera in response to changes in research practices and technology.

The database marks an important departure from past history of work on Orthoptera.  Numerous catalogues have been published over the years, although typically under the leadership of a single person or institution.  The task has grown along with the increasing number of new taxa and references.  Although the ecological importance of Orthoptera has not diminished, funding and other resources available through museums and other institutions are often limited.  Computer technology now permits the continuous enhancement of information resources, including the efficient sharing and retrieval of detailed taxonomic information across time zones and hemispheres.  Sponsorship by the Othopterists’ Society facilitates the continuity of the database among its growing community of collaborators.

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History

Daniel Otte developed the initial version of the database for his personal use.  Most of the data came from the Zoological Record.  Otte soon realized that the amount of his data was sufficient that it should be published and made available to others.  The first volume of the Orthoptera Species File was published in 1994 to cover crickets (Grylloidea).  Subsequent volumes continued through volume eight in 2000 to complete all Orthoptera.  Some of the work was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation to Daniel Otte and Piotr Naskrecki (Award Number 9707776).  The collaboration between Otte and Naskrecki led to version one of the Orthoptera Species File, first posted to the Internet on October 20, 1997.  Naskrecki and Otte also published a CD entitled An Illustrated Catalog of Orthoptera, Vol. I. Tettigonioidea (Katydids or bush-crickets) in 1999.

David Eades recognized the value of the Orthoptera Species File and saw potential for further development.  He communicated with Otte and Naskrecki and submitted a proposal to the Orthopterists' Society that formed the basis for version two of the Orthoptera Species File.  Data from the Tettigonioidea CD was imported to a new database to demonstrate the feasibility and value of a more complex database design.  The new design provided cross checking of data in a way that called attention to many errors.  The editing portion was completely redone in a way that identifies and prevents many errors as new data is entered and also greatly reduces the number of changes that must be manually entered.  The import of Tettigonioidea data was completed in February 2001 with substantial duplication of version one read-only functionality completed in June 2001.  Import of all data from previous versions of the Orthoptera Species File was completed in July 2002.  The much more complex programming required for editing the data has been developed gradually while the data was being imported.  All essential portions were completed in August 2001.  A major rewrite improving the reliability and moving to new software was completed in November 2003.  New data based on the Zoological Record was brought current through 2003 in September 2004.  Programming to support keys and specimen data was completed in 2005.  Also in 2005 Eades and Paul Brock initiated the Phasmida Species File using the software from OSF.

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Continuing development


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