Volunteers wanted!

You are very welcome to help out at the Reptile Database. There is plenty of stuff to do. If you miss features or data, please help to implement or provide them! Here are just some ideas and suggestions. It's also a wish list. Let us know if you have questions or other suggestions!

Data collection and curation

Obviously, there are many gaps in the database.
Help us to fill them by submitting data, e.g.

We can send you papers to curate! Or lists of species that lack such information.

Adopt a journal: if you subscribe to a particular journal of herpetological interest, let us know. We would love if you keep an eye on that journal and let us know which papers we should reference and curate (which you could do as well, if you wish :).

Herpetological Reviews: Geographic distribution: We are working on a system to import all Geographic distribution notes from Herpetological Reviews including the data from these notes. However, we need some help with that. Due to the format that HR uses, this cannot be easily automated and needs to be done manually!

Parsing, reformatting, programming, scripting

By reformatting we mean reformatting data that we have but which were'nt able to import into the database.
This would require some programming or scripting (e.g. if you know Access database or even Excel macros).
For instance, we have many bibliographies that need to be reformatted. Here is an example:

Rieppel, O., deBraga, M., 1996. Turtles as diapsid reptiles. Nature 384, 453–455

needs to be broken up into

Author: Rieppel, O., deBraga, M.
Year: 1996
Title: Turtles as diapsid reptiles.
Source: Nature 384, 453–455
(other information where available, e.g. URLs, author emails etc.)

This sounds easy, but it's not that trivial, especially when you have thousands of citations in many different formats.

Parsing of pdfs and their file names: we have about 10,000 pdfs which are only partially curated. One big job is to map these papers (or their file names) to references in the database.

Camparing bibliographies: we have many bibliographies which we cannot simply import as this would lead to many duplicates. It is necessary to identify such duplicates, especially if they have different formatting, typos, or other differences (e.g. author spelled with or without diacritical characters etc.).

Bioidversity Heritage Library: we need someone to map the BHL bibliography to our bibliography, so we can add all the missing URLs to BHL. Another job would be to import all missing reptile references from BHL to the Reptile Database.


Our current maps suck and we know it! This is why we need better maps. If you know GIS or even simpler graphics application and want to help draw maps, please let us know.


We need more links to and from the database. Please help us to provide and maintain them. Here are some examples:

Phylogenetic trees

We would love to have all published phylogenetic trees in the database. If you interested in helping to reach this goal, please let us know. There are several strategies, but they either involve copying and pasting trees from papers, or converting them to digital trees using tools such as TreeSnatcher. We can provide the papers, if you help to extract the trees (and species lists represented in them). Trees would be directly deposited in the Reptile Database and/or in public repositieries such as TreeBase.

This page is maintained by Peter Uetz
Created: 3 April 2013 / Last changed: 9 Dec 2013