Field Notes

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Statement of Purpose

These links and documents contain information about best practices for field notes.



Content generated during The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH) Annual Joint Meeting - 2016, during an iDigBio sponsored workshop by the following individuals participating in the "Field to Database" Group of the aforementioned workshop: Breda Zimkus, Cesar Aguilar, Ben Frable, Meredith Mahoney, Zachary Randall, and David Wernecke.

Recording medium

Best practice to have on paper; digital can be back-up

  • Archival paper (acid free) and pens
  • Photographs or computer entry of field notes as back-up
  • Waterproof label paper for documentation of collecting event (to put with specimens)


  • Use a standard format
- Pre-printed field forms (on archival paper) can be used
  • Each page should be headed with date and complete collecting locality, including GPS
  • Use a single sequential set of field numbers throughout collecting career; never re-use field numbers

Field Catalog minimal data requirements

insert photo of example for wiki

  • Date (write out month)
  • Collector(s)
- Full names for first mention
- Institutional affiliation also useful
  • Higher level geography (country, state, county)
  • Locality Name and description, including any major landmarks (e.g., roads, towns; do not use ephemeral landmarks), information on how to reach site (mileage, etc.)
  • GPS Coordinates (datum, including elevation)
  • Depth
  • Time of Day
  • Macro/microhabitat (including ecological data)
  • Weather (rainy/cloudy/sunny, temp)
  • Sampling duration
  • Field/collector number
  • Preliminary identification
  • Drainage
  • Flora and other species observed
  • Reference to photographs, sound recordings, tissue samples and other ancillary collections; note if specimen was not collected

Field Journal

Travelog with expanded narrative

Voucher-less specimens

- May not be possible to keep large vouchers or protected species
- Photographs may act as vouchers