This project is driven by Dr. Paul Skelton, Director of the J.L.B. Smith Institute in Grahamstown (South Africa), who is providing ALCOM with records from the most important museum collections on fish species in Southern Africa. Collection records which are already included or are planned to be included originate from:
ALCOM's task in the ASD project is to integrate the collections in a GIS, based on ALCOM's watershed model for Southern Africa. Through an overlay of the locations where certain fish species have been found and the subwatersheds, distribution polygons are determined. These polygons have to be checked by the J.L.B Smith Institute for possible errors or inaccuracies. When this will be done, digital species distribution mapping will be available, including historical changes in species distribution which might be reflected in the collections. On top of this, the method offers a unique chance to verify records for possible errors in geographical locations.
The interface and methods for the digital species distribution mapping have been developed already and we are currently merging the different databases and checking for errors in locations. Some examples of the first distribution mapping are given below.
The distribution of Oreochromis mossambicus according to the records in the JLB Smith and Albany museum collections is first plotted as points on the map. One can observe the high collection rate in certain areas whilst in others, very few specimens of Oreochromis mossambicus were recorded. This is partly related to the fact that O. mossambicus is not considered by many collectors as an interesting species for museums and thus not often sent for determination in contrast with some of the smaller and more difficult species (such as many Barbus spp.).
After checking for obvious erratic locations, the records are overlayed with the catchment map (subwatersheds) and the subwatershed ID for each record is linked to the species record. This enables one to export a datafile and crosstable with all the Watershed ID's for each species in order to visualise a digital distribution map.
For more information contact: The Fisheries Officer, ALCOM Mail: PO Box 3730, Harare, Zimbabwe Location : Fisheries Research Unit, National Parks Complex, Sandringham Drive, Harare, Zimbabwe Telephone: 263-4-734797, 724985 Fax: 263-4-736847 Telex: 260-40 FAO ZW E-mail: ALCOM@Harare.iafrica.com
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