Frequently asked questions

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I would like to contribute information, photographs or a comment, how can I do that?

Go to ‘Feedback’ in the bottom banner where you will be able to contact us with your comments and other information.

What additions to this website are in planning stages?

You will find information about ongoing and future plans for the website in Future directions in the Home menu.

What are the advantages of becoming a registered user and logging in?

Certain features of the website such as saved lists are user-specific and require the user to be logged in to their own area. In addition, registered users will receive updates on the timing of releases and details of upcoming changes.

I need to use this website on field trips where there is no internet. How can I do this?

At present this is not possible. We are acutely aware of this need and will provide a solution for as many of the components of the website as feasible. The capacity to print and download pages as pdfs will be added over the coming months. Registered users will be advised of timing. Interactive map generation through Coral Geographic will continue to require internet access but resulting maps will be printable.

Can I access this website on small devices such as smart phones?

The principal focus of development has been for computers and tablets, but the site is compatible with smaller devices. In certain cases there may be some differences in information displayed.

Given that it is a draft, how can I cite this website?

As stated elsewhere, data in the Beta version are subject to change without notice as data confirmation continues and in response to feedback over taxonomic and distributional issues. Users are advised not to use data for publication until Version 1.00 is published as Beta states will not be archived. Following publication of Version 1.00 the website data will be locked and versioned. For information on timing of Version releases please become a registered user.

To cite information and data from this website see 'Cite this page' in the bottom banner or to the Citation guide under the Home menu.

How do I identify my species and find the correct factsheet for the species I am interested in?

The electronic key Coral ID is designed to meet this need but is not currently available. Scrolling through factsheets of the likely genus should help.

What will my donation be used for?

All donations are used for ongoing maintenance and further work on this website. There are no overheads. The progress of the website is highly dependent on the generosity of donors.

Why are my publication(s) not included in the Bibliography?

Only a fraction of the full bibliography is currently available on the website. These will be progressively updated. However, not all publications for an ecoregion will necessarily be listed as primary references. Publications which have been superseded, those which do not provide new relevant information and those in which species identifications are incidental to other studies may not be listed. If you feel a paper should be listed, please accept our apology and send it to us via the ‘Feedback’ form in the bottom banner.

Will DNA technology replace taxonomy based on morphology?

This is a complex issue, go to Overview of Coral Taxonomy in the ‘Coral Taxonomy’ menu.

DNA data is usually analysed using a cladistics program. Excluding the presence of ‘wildcards’ (extraneous results that are very unlikely), cladistics should accurately indicate divisions in samples provided that the entities under study are reproductively isolated. This may hold true at any scale from species to families as long as no lateral gene flow (hybridisation) has taken place. Where lateral gene flow is likely to have taken place in evolutionary time or geographic space (such as between the components of a species group or complex or between related genera) cladograms may not accurately represent natural divisions. Thus, DNA analysis is a very useful tool but may not represent phylogeny where there has been reticulate evolution.

In this website, molecular results are accepted except where there is good reason not to do so. Relevant publications are cited. See Website policy under the Home menu for further information.

Why can’t I find the species I am looking for in ‘Taxon Finder’?

Taxon finder has most names used in taxonomy or biogeography after 1980 but does not include disused names in earlier publications if the name cannot be associated with a natural entity. Normally such names are only associated with a description and/or a museum specimen. See Hexacorallians of the World or other informatics websites for use of older names. If you believe the name should be included in Taxon finder, please send us details via the Feedback form in the bottom banner.

Is there a bias in the taxonomic framework of this website?

Yes in the sense that taxonomic decisions are those of the authors. This is a publication like any other, it draw on the book Corals of the World and extends it to include revisions and new information since that publication. Alternative opinions are indicated in the Factsheets. This is not an informatics website where all information is treated equally.

Why is a published species record not included in your map?

There are many possible reasons. Published records, provided they are attributed to a person or people, will normally be represented on one of the three distribution layers: confirmed, strongly predicted or doubtful. In some circumstances, lists of species are published online or in grey literature but the provenance (authors and fieldworkers) on which the list is based is unknown. These may not be included. Unpublished records are only included where the author in known and the basis of the record is understood by us. Records of Caribbean species in the IndoPacific and vice versa may not be included. It is also possible that we may not be aware of the publication or record, particularly if it is not in mainstream journals. Please forward details of records that you believe should be included via the Feedback form in the bottom banner. If the record is your own and you have supporting images or other information, please include them.

Is there a bias in the view that more experienced fieldworkers find more species?

Yes, a strong bias. We have endeavoured to overcome this by the use of the category ‘strongly predicted records’. See Overview of coral distributions under Coral Geographic in the top banner for further information.

Do better known species have more records?

Yes, a strong bias. We have endeavoured to overcome this by the use of the category ‘strongly predicted records’. See Overview of coral distributions the under Coral Geographic menu and ‘Website policy’ under the Home menu in the top banner for further information.

Does sampling effort affect records of diversity?

Yes. We have endeavoured to overcome this by the use of the category ‘strongly predicted records’. See Overview of coral distributions the under Coral Geographic menu and ‘Website policy’ under the Home menu in the top banner for further information.

Do records of mesophotic occurrences affect distribution records?

Probably very little because, with some notable exceptions, mesophotic occurrences are seldom without shallow-water-counterparts of the species in question.

Should I use only ‘confirmed’ records?

Strongly predicted records include both published records that we believe are likely but which have not yet been confirmed, and predictions based on all available evidence. If these were not included, the distribution data would be strongly biased away from the most likely distribution. Thus the inclusion of ‘strongly predicted’ records greatly increases the relevance of distribution data to the real world. See Overview of coral distributions under the 'Coral Geographic' menu for further information. We will provide additional guidance relating to the basis of the records in the form of map layers in the future.

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