South America

By Alex Calder
Alex Calder
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South America

Post by Alex Calder » Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:26 pm

This appeared to be the most accurate placement for the message if I am incorrect in my assessment please move accordingly.

My name is Alex. Over the last several years I have worked increasingly as a web applications developer.
I also keep African Cichlids as a hobby. My occupation and my hobby have intersected.

I have a project that I and others have been working on for approximately three years. The project has gone through many typical phases. The most recent change was to return to it's roots and apply it to the needs of the traditional Cichlid hobbyist. In doing this I have updated the actual software greatly taking it from it's original rather clunky form to a more useful sleek modern application. My implementation of this software is aimed to compete with existing hobbyist level applications, not something along the lines of the catalog here which I see as scientific nomenclature.

Now to be truthful the "Cichlidbase" is the application for which I request help. The Cichlidbase has been built using software I am writing for commercial purposes I differentiate between the two as I am not asking for help in developing the commercial application, which shall remain generic and separated, I am asking for help fine tuning an information field in the Cichlidbase.

A recent information level request has stumped me. My users have requested that I change the way it deals with geographical regions to allow for more clarity and pre-programmed assistance with chemistry.

The first step was to break down into continents, which is obviously easy.
The second was to define regions within a continent.
The third is a blank field where the user specifies a more exact location within the region.

Now I myself have a clear understanding and knowledge of the African branch. The Asian branch is simple due to a limited number of locations. South America proved to require a little research with maps and cross referencing. However North America has proven itself to be well out of my own capabilities. I have requested help from my collaborators with this, but only two of them will be able to truly help and even they may be too limited to be able to make such decisions. I could really use the help of the many experts that reside here.

Below is how I chose to approach South America:
* Amazon Basin
* Lago Titicaca
* Rio Orinoco
* Río Magdalena
* Rio Tocantins
* Rio São Francisco
* Rio Paraná
* Patagonia
* Other

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Thank you for any help you may be able to provide.



Additional note:
The commercial generic application will be diverse enough to cover what ever a person or group may want to log.
It will work for my own Cichlidbase, it could power Juan's catalog as well as a database for classic cars or say coins.
Last edited by Alex Calder on Sat May 03, 2008 12:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Bas Pels
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Bas Pels » Tue Apr 22, 2008 1:51 am

Not active in Amazonia, but with fishes from the far south (Uruguay) I think - from a hobbyists point of vies, Patagonia (which could include Uruguay) is too broad.

Fishes from north Patagonia are almost, or completely, tropical, requireing more or less stable temp year round. Fishes from the south do need (and encounter) cold temps. Last year, Montevideo had a period of 3 weeks with average temps below 7 C. A few more , shorter periods were seen as well.

Paulo José Alves
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Paulo José Alves » Tue Apr 22, 2008 4:43 am

Hi


In Patagonia itself there are no cichlids. They exist in the region immediately to the north of that region, the so called pampas area which includes the provinces of Buenos aires, Entre Rios, etc.
All The Best
Paulo José

Don Hiatt
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Don Hiatt » Tue Apr 22, 2008 9:56 am

Alex,
As far as a data base goes, if you were to pick apart every category in sub categories, you would end up going deeper and deeper into it.

If we look at Lake Malawi for example, there are several well defined barriers that can be used to break up species geographically. Then you can pick apart the varied biotopes within each area (rocky areas, sand flats, grass beds and transitional zones) and group the various species accordingly.
And this had been done before (over and over again in fact).

When we talk about South America, things become more complicated.

You have listed:
* Amazon Basin <<<Rio Amazon by itself, or do you mean the whole? The Amazon basin covers a very large portion of the continent. Many species are localized.
* Lago Titicaca <<<<No Cichlids. An endemic group of endangered silversides and introduced trout make up the ichtyofauna of that lake.
* Rio Orinoco
* Río Magdalena
* Rio Tocantins
* Rio São Francisco
* Rio Paraná
* Patagonia <<<<Patagonia itself does not have any native Cichlids that I know of.
* Other

Take a look at Ecuador and Peru for example. What you find East of the Andes is far different than what you would find West of it. And if you would further focus on just Peru, each Amazonian region has it's own unique groupings of species. The Rio Maldonado in the South shares many species that are also found in neighboring Bolivia, but not in the North of Peru. You find Gold Saums in both North Eastern Peru as well as neighboring Ecuador.

If you look at the species themselves, the Gold and Silver Saums in Peru and Ecuador are closley related to the Blue Acaras found in Northern South America, Trinidad and Southern Central America.

As you see, a category like "Amazon Basin" is a very broad category to use for a subject like this.

Like I said, complicated. I myself would know where to start.

I do commend you for what you are trying to do. Since I work in the IT field myself and know (and loath) data bases and what goes into constructing them, I do wish you good luck in what you are trying to do. I have though about doing this myself, but came to my senses soon after. lol

Don Hiatt

Alex Calder
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Alex Calder » Tue Apr 22, 2008 10:53 am

Thank you all for your replies. Every bit of information makes what I am attempting easier, as well as the information more accurate. My goal was to make certain aspects of authoring profiles simpler, however based on your feedback I wonder if my first approach was not the better method.

In my first approach I went with one generic option :
Lake Malawi, South America, Central America, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Victoria, North America, East Africa, West Africa and Asia.

The second option was a fill in the blank. In the case of the one fish I am qualified to write about I chose Lake Tanganyika and then added "Rocky habitats in the south western portion of the lake." in the secondary fill in field. (Yes I realize that should be more exact, however I am awaiting preferred means of citing from a publisher.)

After reading what you are sharing I wonder if the change is illogical and instead I should stick with my original method.

Am I attempting an exercise in futility by going into too much detail?

If it would help anyone I can hack the security and authentication for a day or two to allow one to see the main submission form.

Alex Calder
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Alex Calder » Tue Apr 22, 2008 11:16 am

I failed to mention something that may be relevant.
The fill in field is limited to 255 characters which at the time appeared sufficient.
Should I reconsider this limitation if my primary method is the better way to go?

Don,

Believe it or not the application is fully functional. I have integrated it into my current forum software to handle authentication and security. There are currently two profiles entered though they have not been proof read properly yet so I do not have them live for member and guest viewing. The application is and Ajax platform with underlying php, fully " web 2.0" compliant.
There are four access levels, one is completely administrative allowing for the editing of both private and live profiles, once for contributing profiles and editing private ones, a member based one that allows full searching and lastly a guest one designed to allow proper indexing by search engines.

Paulo José Alves
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Paulo José Alves » Wed Apr 23, 2008 7:59 am

Hi


As far as I know Aequidens rivulatus in its different colorations only exists in West Equador and in Northwest and in West Central Peru, to the west of the Andes, in the Pacific drainage area, not in the Amazonian one.
All The Best
Paulo José

Don Hiatt
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Don Hiatt » Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:20 am

Paulo,
I said: "You find Gold Saums in both North Eastern Peru as well as neighboring Ecuador."
I meant to say North Western Peru. My point was that they were NOT found East of the Andes, but I neglected to proof read what I typed.

Alex,
I am sure you application is fully functional. My only point being that it is a very big task of creating the various applicable fields for all the varied regions in South America.
This is the best site bar non to find people that could contribute to your data base.
I myself would be more than happy to help.

Don

Alex Calder
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Alex Calder » Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:09 pm

Out of respect for Juan and every one who has contributed to this site I could not come asking for that level of contribution from any one here. Additionally the application in specific instance will likely be used for revenue generation in the future to have any one unwittingly contribute to that would be shameful on my part. (I have taken over for a friend and do not have the long term revenue that he has, dedicated servers are rather expensive these days.)

After a good chat with one of my moderators the other day, after pointing him to this thread, we decided that leaving the current setup as it was would be the best idea. We proceeded to investigate the generic chemistry of all current regions in order to provide a building block for those who were less comfortable with that aspect of required information. This was a major undertaking as we are treating the Americas rather broadly. I am still deciding how to deal with that portion of the code, but I will break that into another paragraph so those of a less technical nature can side step it.

The application itself is powered by Ajax which means I am able to be in constant communication with the server at any given time. I was looking at coding a module that would query a table in the database upon selection of a "region" the results of the query would in turn update the chemistry values to generic levels for the selected region. This is all rather simple given the dynamic nature of the application.

Upon completion of my additional article, I have some picture placement left, I will make one profile live and open the submit form to guests . This is not to encourage random people adding to the database, but instead to give first hand experience.

Alex Calder
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Alex Calder » Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:39 pm

Deleted
Last edited by Alex Calder on Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

Alex Calder
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Alex Calder » Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:00 am

One of my more knowledgeable (American Cichlid) helpers provided me an idea for North American regions today.
His break down is the following:
Mexico
Guatemala
Belize
El Salvador
Honduras
Nicaragua
Costa Rica
Panama

His response makes e think that I should revisit this idea more carefully.

Alex Calder
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Alex Calder » Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:11 am

Don Hiatt wrote:Alex,
As far as a data base goes, if you were to pick apart every category in sub categories, you would end up going deeper and deeper into it.
I understand this "danger".
Don Hiatt wrote: * Amazon Basin <<<Rio Amazon by itself, or do you mean the whole? The Amazon basin covers a very large portion of the
continent. Many species are localized.
I actually did mean the whole basin, at the time it seemed like a good beginning. I figured for a search form the basin would work, on the profile level the author can use the supplied fill in the blank field to specify more accurately.

When I was looking at this idea I figured that countries would not work as easily due to the fact that some fish may span multiple countries. If I instead went with larger river systems and regions I would avoid this. However given the way North America was broken down for me I wonder if the country approach could not be made to work. If I were to use a check box group instead of a pull down list I could easily store multiple values. I would, for the programming side, rather keep it simple but O am open to ideas. Finding the line where I meet the needs of the task and the ease of use is rather difficult. The primary target audience would likely be "newbie" to moderate. A more experienced user may use this as a tool, but they will use it differently.

Alex Calder
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Alex Calder » Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:25 am

I realized I needed to clarify something I said above, I think I came across wrong.

When I said that I could not ask for anyone to add to the species I did not mean such help would not be accepted.
I would gladly accept help adding to the database, I just did not want to come across incorrectly as asking for it.

One issue with adding to he database is that I am using my forum software to handle the access levels.
Disclaimer, the following is not farming users. ;)
For the sake of users here I would welcome you to join the forum, however I recognize that people may not want to do so.
Were people interested in adding to the database, but not interested in having to join another site to do so I can code a protected backdoor to allow it, just let me know.

Alex Calder
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Alex Calder » Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:30 am

Updated South America:
* Amazon Basin
* Rio Orinoco
* Río Magdalena
* Rio Tocantins
* Rio São Francisco
* Rio Paraná
* Other

Paulo José Alves wrote:Hi

As far as I know Aequidens rivulatus in its different colorations only exists in West Equador and in Northwest and in West Central Peru, to the west of the Andes, in the Pacific drainage area, not in the Amazonian one.
Paulo,
Is there a river system I could use to cover this?

Alex

Alex Calder
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Alex Calder » Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:17 pm

Given a bit of time I think something on the order of whats written below would be best. Although there will still be a couple of species that could possibly overlap (Tomocichla tuba for example.)

Greater Antilles
North Mexico
South Mexico, Guatemala, Belize; Atlantic Slope
Nicaragua, Costa Rica; Atlantic Slope
South Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador; Pacific Slope etc...
etc ...

What do you think of this? Its more accurate than simply stating single countries and only slightly more complex.
Here is further development of the above ideas. I am seriously looking at this as it can fit into my design rather seamlessly. My main problem is that while I am familiar with the basic geography of the Americas I am not familiar enough in the sense of Cichlids.

Bas Pels
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Bas Pels » Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:43 am

Actually, the distribution of cichlids does follow normal distribution patterns. 1 example: only 1 genus managed to reach north America, Herichthys (that is, using the geografical definition of north America, not using tate borders)

The main problem with using countries as references is, where the border is a river, you will always end up concluding the fish in this river life in both countries. If you use geografical terms - such as river beds, or mauntains, the info will be less accessible, but much better usable.

regarding where to put Aequidens rivulatus, I'd say western of the Andes.

RustyNut
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by RustyNut » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:33 pm

Forgive me, but I am fairly ignorant to the various geographical complexities of the neotropicals, but I am the one who suggested this idea to Alex.... (I feel guilty now)

Help me get some general sense here of a few things...
1) If water bodies/rivers are used as a category, will that water have consistent water chemistry along most of its course?
2) For South American cichlids would a single range such as 6.4-7.0 work for the vast majority of fish? What about GH/KH? Any species like Hard water?
3) For the North Americans, are there any/many species that like soft acidic water?
4) If none, what is the basic range of hardness for the majority of species?

Bas Pels
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Bas Pels » Thu May 01, 2008 1:50 am

1,2 in the whole of Amazonian water, we find 3 types:
black water - quite acid, pH 4-6
white water - not very acid, pH 6-7
clear water - comparable with white water

looking at the map, you see the Rio Negro (black water) meets the Rio Amazon (white water) near Manaus. No, the water chemistry is not that consistent along the Amazon river. Still, only 3 water types, for half a continet is not bad

3,4 North America- that is the distribution of Herichthys, is hard th very hard water - GH 20-100, pH 7-8 I think.

I did not look anything up in a book, so please do that yourself

Alex Calder
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Alex Calder » Thu May 01, 2008 9:51 am

This type of discussion is very good for me as the developer. As I begin to see the information my mind begins to work on solutions to the problem. There is always a logical means to breaking down the information and providing it more accurately in presentation. I now know more than I did a mere minute ago. I can use such information to further develop the submission form making water chemistry easier on the author.

The platform that drives the application allows for free communication with the server and therefore with the database.
To have tables that are used to aid the creative process is not out of reach.

For example:

If I go with continents and regions this is what occurs.

A user selects a continent.
When this occurs a piece of code is activated.
This piece of code sends the continent choice to code on the server.
The server sends a list of regions from the database and the code on the user end updates the page you are looking at.

Now to get a little more complex.
I can make a table in the database that stores a true or false for multiple water types in a given region.
When a region is selected the user side code activates a request to the server, on the server end the code checks this table.
Back on the user end the code has two possible actions on a false it activates code to update the chemistry from the server on a true it activates code which adds a water type choice on the user end.
When the user selects a water type the chemistry code is subsequently updated.

so the user sees the following transparently:
- User selects continent, regions are populated.
- User selects a region.
-- If region is one water type chemistry is updated.
-- Else form is updated with water type selection.
--- Water type is selected and chemistry is updated
- User continues on with profile.

At he present I believe only South American waterways will present a need for this, am I correct?

Bas Pels
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Re: Geographical regions.

Post by Bas Pels » Thu May 01, 2008 12:18 pm

As far as I'm aware of, West Africa has a similar kind of water - thus also the three kinds.

However, West Africa is new territory for the hobby, so perhaps you might want te leave this for much later

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