Introduction

Information management has become an important part of collections management for any sizable collection. The UCMP data model has undergone rapid evolution in the last few years, and now provides a road map to the types of information that we maintain in dealing with our collections. The UCMP data model combines and standardizes data from all of the museum's various collections, archives and research libraries into one system. This system allows collection managers to retain specialized information from each discipline, while standardizing basic information common to all divisions (basic locality data, taxonomic data structures, type specimens).
The data model is a complex one, because it integrates information from all of the museum's divisions: Invertebrates, Vertebrates, Prokaryotes & Protists and Paleobotany, and tracks information from recent and fossil collections, museum archives and literature references. This is an integration of information among disciplines which have traditionally maintained separate and non-overlapping information about specimens. Such distinctions have artificially restricted the information available to researchers by limiting the data to particular taxa, geographic areas or time intervals. Integration of information should enhance research and allow exciting new research directions.
Please note we are still making changes to this model. In the figure at the top of this page, we have divided the UCMP data model into smaller units, each of which deals with an important aspect of collections management. These modules have so many inter-linking relationships that any attempt to render them accurately is impossible to read, so we superimposed them on a spider web to show the interweaving between modules. If you are not very familiar with data modeling, you might want to check out Tim McLellan's article on Data Modelling.

Navigational tips:
Clicking on one of the modules in the image above will load the data model diagram for that module in the upper frame. In the individual data model diagrams, the single headed arrows indicate 1:1 relationships, and the double-headed arrows 1:Many or Many:Many relationships. The notation in the data model diagrams shows whether or not an attribute is required (C indicates that a value may not be required) and whether one or many relationships are permitted. The individual figures are also image maps, and clicking on a table will display that table's structure in the lower frame. The table structures for each module are listed together, so scroll down the page in the lower frame to see the rest of the tables. If you get helplessly lost in the frames, the bar on the right will reload the module you choose. For Mac users, there are links in the bar on the right which will allow you to navigate back in the frames. There is a no frames option available in the bar on the right for those who hate frames.

The data model is being implemented on a Windows 95 system, using Paradox® data tables and data entry programs written using Delphi 2.0 Developer ® ; the World Wide Web is used for remote access to the databases. Following basic implementation of the system, we anticipate providing on-the-fly distribution maps for taxa at particular periods of time over the Web.

References: Guidelines and Standards for Fossil Vertebrate Databases: Results of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Workshop on Computerization, Stanley D. Blum (ed.)


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