Florida Lake Management Society Annual Conference, Naples, Florida, June 4 – 7, 2007
AN INNOVATIVE APPROACH TO DATABASE MANAGEMENT
Lori McCloud, Steve Richter, Dean Dobberfuhl SJRWMD Palatka, FL Michelle Jeansonne and Brian Sparks BCI Lakeland, FL
Typical data collection within the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) and other organizations often involves contracting sample analysis to consultants and receiving a “data-dump” of the results at the end of the contract period. Studies requiring organism identification that span several years may have multiple consultants involved in sample analysis, resulting in different data delivery formats. Furthermore, different consultants may use different naming conventions for organisms, causing the lowest level of identification to change based on the skill and experience of the analyst.
Data received at the end of the contract period usually need to be reorganized and formatted to fit the local database. This often invites transcription errors and introduces mistakes that require an enormous amount of staff time to correct. Since data collected during a study usually cannot be evaluated or examined until the initial data-dump is received at the end of the contract, trends in data and emerging issues often cannot be detected until months after the project is complete. This eliminates the possibility of altering the project to capture additional data as questions emerge. In an attempt to minimize data variability and conserve staff time, we developed a “real time” biological database utilizing a standardized naming convention, where consultants can actively enter data, perform quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) functions, and load approved data in real-time to the District database.
The “real time” aspect of the database is implemented by using a Web-based interface called Citrix. This allows any user with Internet access to enter or access data in the database, which was created in Microsoft Access. Security is enforced both by the Citrix application and Microsoft Access with separate passwords.
The database tracks all samples from the time of collection to delivery of the final data, and will generate a Chain-of-Custody for sample shipment to the consultant. Nomenclature within the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS; http://www.itis.gov) was adopted as the standardized naming convention, and provides the entire taxonomy for each organism. Tables for each taxonomic level were created and linked by ITIS codes to adjacent tables. During data entry, the analyst needs only to specify the lowest level of identification (i.e. ‘Sub- Species’), and the database automatically populates the entire taxonomic tree of that organism from its lowest-identified level up to Kingdom.
The QA/QC area of the database provides immediate feedback as data entry occurs. Invalid entries result in error messages that guide the user in correcting the entry. Duplication of records is prevented, and auto-filling of certain fields assists analysts in data entry. Organisms
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