CAAB Search Tips
If your search fails (returns 0 results), possibly there are currently no matching records in the CAAB system, or possibly you have inadvertently framed your query incorrectly - e.g. by searching an inappropriate CAAB category.
If in doubt, please check the following:
- ensure that the correct search category is highlighted (e.g. searching category 37-Pisces for a mollusc will not be successful). If in doubt, use the option "search all categories"
- ensure that you have used the correct text box for your entry, i.e., the "scientific name" box for a scientific name, the "common name" box for a common name, etc.
- make sure that you have included no unorthodox characters such as " or * in your text string entered (these will cause the search to fail)
- for a scientific name search, check your spelling is correct or, if in doubt, try using the "near" instead of "exact" matching option. If you still have no success, try the "genus index" feature available near the "Search" button.
- common name searches may fail simply because not all possible common names are held in CAAB at this time. Try repeating the search with a more generic common name (e.g. "shark" instead of "ghost shark"), and try the "contains" option as well as "starts with".
- not all CAAB categories are populated equally at this time. As at July 2001, lists are essentially complete for Australian marine mammals, seabirds, and marine reptiles (categories 41, 40 and 39); fishes (category 37); tunicates (category 35); echinoderms (category 25); stony corals (category 11, in part); and sponges (category 10). Lists are partially complete (main "commercially important" species plus selected others) for marine crustaceans (categories 27-28) and molluscs (categories 23-24), seaweeds (categories 54-56), mangroves and seagrasses (category 63), plus a few microalgae (categories 52-53) at this time. Coverage of other groups will be undertaken as priorities and resources permit. For up-to-the-minute statistics on CAAB content by category, click here.
Here are some specific search tips:
- Text entered in search boxes is not case sensitive (i.e., "thunnus" will find "Thunnus", and vice versa).
- In scientific names searches, if the exact matching option is selected, the spelling must match exactly for a record to be returned. This search operates faster than the "near match" search, but you must be sure you have spelled your search term correctly.
If the near matching option is selected, "near matches" are permitted on certain letters and combinations of letters which are close, but not exact matches. The algorithm used considers common variant spellings of similar words and returns "near matches" as well as exact matches. Thus, for example, "Exocetus monocirrus" will match "Exocoetus monocirrhus", "Anabena" will match "Anabaena", etc. This option is useful if you are not sure of the exact spelling of the name you are seeking.
- In common names, spaces are optional (makes no difference to the search whether or not they match) as part of the text string for matching. This means that searching for common name = "zebra fish" will find "zebrafish", and vice versa. Also, common name searches are tolerant of mismatches with apostrophes ("Wilsons weedfish" will find "Wilson's weedfish", and vice versa) and hyphens ("sea eagle" will find "sea-eagle", and vice versa).
Please note, however, that spaces are required in the expected position for scientific name searches, e.g. entering "Tursiops truncatus" (for bottlenose dolphin) will work, but entering "Tursiopstruncatus" will fail.
- Do NOT enclose the search term in quotes, as some other systems require; also do NOT add an asterisk, percent sign, or other character as a wildcard ... this is automatically taken care of by the search process, as follows:
- "Search starts with..." automatically adds a wildcard character to the end of the entered term or phrase (i.e., the initial part of a word is acceptable).
- "Search contains..." automatically adds a wildcard at both start and end of the entered term or phrase.
- If you leave the text strings blank, the query will return all records in the selected category, according to other options selected as well. However this may take some time (and possibly exceed your browser's memory allocation) as certain categories are very large (e.g. 37 - Pisces has currently some 4000+ records).
- Please note that, for fishes, common names are only partly completed and are largely unverified in this version of CAAB, so should not be relied upon to generate a complete list of possible taxa.
- Certain group names can be entered in the "scientific name" or "common name" text box and will return all organism names in the desired group, as an alternative (or adjunct) to using the "category search" picklist. Click here to see the current list of recognised names which can be entered (note, not all of these necessarily have data stored against them at this time). The names are not case-sensitive, i.e., either "Porifera" or "porifera" are equally acceptable.
- In CAAB taxon codes, the first 2 digits (category code) are separated from the last 6 digits (family code+species number) by a space. If you do not include this space after the category code, your search may not work correctly.
- The "Scientific name" field will accept abbreviated genus names (restricted to either the first 1, 2 or 3 characters), followed by a full stop, followed by part or all of the species name, e.g. h.annulatus or h.ann (or 'h.a' or 'ho.ann' or 'hol.ann', or any similar variants) will quickly find Hologymnosus annulatus (plus other taxa whose names match this pattern, if they occur in the selected category/s).
Note: the system is tolerant of a single space (optionally) entered after the full stop, thus both H.annulatus and H. annulatus are acceptable to the system.
- Subgenus names (e.g. "Microthele" in the example Holothuria (Microthele) nobilis) need NOT be entered in order to retrieve the requisite code. However they may be entered in brackets as per the example, if the user wishes to restrict the search to a single subgenus.
- Various other organisations' codes may also be stored in the CAAB database for particular taxa. These fields can now be searched by prefixing text entered in the "taxon code" field with a recognised identifier - currently itis for ITIS codes, mov for MoV (Museum of Victoria) codes, cavs for CAVS (Census of Australian Vertebrate Species) codes, or cl for CSIRO Cleveland list codes.
E.g., the green turtle, Chelonia mydas is CAAB taxon 39 020002; it is also code 173833 in the ITIS (USA) database and species 2007 on the CAVS (Australian vertebrate) list. It can be retrieved by entering either 39 0200002, itis173833, or cavs2007 into the "Taxon code" field. There is also an "equals" option for this field in addition to "starts with" and "contains", since some of these "external" codes are subsets of other codes in the same system (this is not the case with CAAB taxon numbers).