Ukraine is the largest country wholly within Europe. Within its vast area, there are many habitats and two regions, Crimea and the Carpathian Mountains, which are famous as biodiversity hot spots. It is, accordingly, important to have information about the occurrence and distribution of all groups of organisms from this country and, indeed, a considerable body of information already exists. For the fungi (including lichen-forming species), most of that information is either on labels in dried reference collections, or as scientific literature published in the Cyrillic alphabet, generally in Russian. For people outside the area and, in particular, for people outside the Russian-speaking countries, all of that information is in practice inaccessible. The present work, therefore, had the objectives of opening that information to the scientific world at large, by computerizing as many records as possible, ensuring that the electronic version has the information stored in the Latin alphabet (in English) in parallel with the original Cyrillic data, and publishing the information in an easily-read electronic format (in this case as HTML files available on the internet and readable by standard internet-browsers).
The work had its origins in an earlier UK Darwin Initiative project Fungi of Ukraine, running from 1994-1996, which had the objective of computerizing fungal records in the herbarium of the M.G. Kholodny Institute of Botany, Kiev. Among other outputs, that Darwin Initiative project resulted in over 79,000 computerized database records each representing an individual observation of a particular organism. A little over half of these records relate to fungi. Most of the remainder are of the plants with which these fungi occur. For some of these records, the only locality information available was the fact that the organism was observed in Ukraine. For many others, however, information is much more detailed. All of that information was made available in book form in the following publication: Minter, D.W.; Dudka, I.O. (1996). Fungi of Ukraine. A preliminary checklist. 361 pp. UK, Surrey, Egham; International Mycological Institute & Ukraine, Kiev, M.G. Kholodny Institute of Botany [ISBN 0 85199 168 8]. An earlier project funded by the Royal Society made it possible to produce a website with 100 example prototype distribution maps of Ukrainian fungi.
Further work during two subsequent UK Darwin Initiative projects increased the number of computerized records for Ukraine to over 134,500 of which over 72,000 relate to fungi. The present work, again funded by the Royal Society, has made possible production of electronic distribution maps of all Ukrainian fungi in that database.
The objectives of the present work were as follows:
To allocate latitude and longitude information to as many as possible of the computerized records of Ukrainian fungi;
To modify existing software to permit production of electronic maps of Ukraine;
To produce distribution maps of different fungi of Ukraine, using the data compiled through the UK Darwin Initiative and other projects, together with mapping software.
The following notes assume a familiarity with the field structures and data standards used in the database for biological recording. For information about these field structures and data standards, see Data structure for biological recording. The database was queried to obtain all records where [CloxAccouA] (English version of accepted name for country) equalled "Ukraine".
This selection was then edited to ensure that all records contained consistent information in [CloxAcstaA] (English name of first level internal political boundary, i.e. oblast), [CloxAcparA] (English name of second level internal political boundary, i.e. raion) and [CloxAcplaA] (English description of exact locality). Care was taken to ensure that information in [CloxAcplaA] was correctly structured, with largest place first, and with subsequent more detailed place names separated by semi-colons.
A second query was then run, to obtain all records where [Cco0AccnaA] (text link to the currently accepted organism name) contained the name of a fungus at a taxonomic rank of species or lower. This was the subset from which all distributional information for individual maps was derived.
These records were then sorted alphabetically by [CloxAcplaA] and, using internet and printed gazetteers and maps of Ukraine, latitude and longitude information was calculated to a level appropriate for the accuracy of the information in [CloxAcplaA]. In many cases it was possible to be accurate to the nearest minute, while in other cases an accuracy to ten minutes or even only to the nearest degree was possible. Latitude information for each record was then entered in [CloxLat__A], and longitude information was entered in [CloxLong_A].
After that work was completed, electronic maps were prepared for Ukrainian fungi showing the distribution of species and subspecific taxa. For an earlier version, DMAP was the mapping software used. The present maps are generated in real time, using custom software produced in-house. Access to maps is through the scientific name of the organism.
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