User defined Trees

Is there any plan to add user defined trees to future editions of Specify 7? For example, for aquatic collections (e.g., fishes, inverts, etc.), it would be extremely beneficial to be able to include information about drainages in the Collecting Event information. Like Geography, drainages are arranged hierarchically and would be best organized into a tree format. For data analyses and mining information from collection records, drainage information is more valuable and useful than geography (fishes don’t pay attention to county and state lines,). It would be great to be able to search river systems or watersheds for collection records.

Pre-determined Drainage Trees designed by Specify programmers are not necessary. If users could just have a blank Tree that they could design themselves, that would be amazing. Some users might want to use it for drainage, others may have other specific types of data they wish to include that lend themselves to the tree format.


Hi @skhuber,

I think that’s a really interesting idea! The idea is technically pratical but there would need to be some reworking of how we handle trees currently.

I have made an official feature request on our GitHub:

Thank you for your request! :smile:

If anyone else in the community is interested in something like this, please let us know!

Yes, great idea. I would not mind having an extra geography tree for example for the TDWG World Geographic Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions (World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions (WGSRPD) - TDWG; plants do not really care about country borders either).

For maximum usability, it would be good if the rank (or TreeDefItem) could be optional, but that might get too complicated and a better way for this might be to allow hierarchical pick lists.

We are going to need different trees for geology if funding comes through for that. Not necessarily user-defined trees, but different ones. It seems sensible to think how we could enable those new trees and others to allow custom definitions.

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This would be fabulous! I use a free-text field for “Drainage” but a tree with a controlled, hierarchical vocabulary would be so much better. — Brian

Wanted to chime in to say this would be an incredibly useful feature for our collection.

We are currently transitioning into Specify and there is some confusion about what to do with our existing information on drainages, which we store in 3 fields: WaterBody1, WaterBody2, and WaterBody3.

The relationship of these fields is hierarchical: WaterBody1 is the water body from which the specimen(s) were collected. It is part of the locality string that we print on labels. WaterBody2 is the body of water that WaterBody1 drains into, likewise WaterBody2 drains into WaterBody3.

For example: if WaterBody1=Ohio River
–>WaterBody2=Mississippi River
–>WaterBody3=Gulf of Mexico

With the set of these fields that we have in our database, it would be relatively simple to create a tree that could organize every record in our collection by drainage.

Perhaps the Specify team members who are helping us create our database could work on implementing this feature with us. :slight_smile: