Mandala is a database system originally created under a grant from the National Science Foundation’s PEET (Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy) program to study the fly family Therevidae. It was designed to track specimen-based biodiversity data, loans from collections, and detail complex nomenclatural histories with their associated literature. The features of this database system, whose engine is the Mac & Windows compatible FileMaker® Pro, were expanded substantially for the Fiji Arthropod Survey to deal with tracking subsamples sorted from Malaise traps and sent to specialists as loans.

In the latest version, Mandala 8v2, the innovations needed by the newest PEET project on the fly family Tabanidae has spurred changes in the database structure, adding the ability to track the of progress of molecular studies related to specimens (extractions, PCR products, sequences), and to create a customizable morphology table (see the database model).

See Mandala in Action!

Search the TherevidWebMandala: Browse or search for information about

  • specimens and their verbatim collecting labels
  • taxonomic names and their history
  • localities (the where) described as political divisions, named geographic features that may transcend political divisions, and biogeographic regions
  • collecting events (the who, when, how, & under what abiotic conditions) associated a locality
  • the literature pertaining to the fly family Therevidae

Search FijiWebMandala, the database of the Fiji Bioinventory of Arthropods project. The emphasis here is also on specimens, however not on the nomenclatural history of a single group, but on taxa reported from and new taxa described from the restricted geographic area of Fiji. Whereas most of the data above on therevid specimens were retrospectively captured from existing pinned and already uniquely labeled specimens, the specimens from the Fiji Bioinventory of Arthropods are an example of using Mandala to proactively generate labels for specimens that will be sent unmounted to specialists to curate and identify.

The approaches to data entry are quite different even if the end result are pinned and labeled specimens to be deposited in a collection. Both projects are now mapping specimens and taxa in DiscoverLife.org.

Official project web page of the NSF projects on Therevid PEET DEB 95-21925 and 99-77958, Fiji Bioinventory of Arthropods DEB 04-25790, Tabanid PEET DEB 07-31528, and FLYTREE, the Diptera Tree of Life EF-03-34948. Send Questions & Comments on the database portions of these projects to gkamp@illinois.edu.

Last updated: April 13, 2011