The goal of the HybriDatabase (HDB) project was to create a comprehensive, on-line resource for information about interspecific hybridization, with a physical file of actual books and papers that would corroborate the information in the database. Much to everyone's surprise, the HDB has become a much bigger project than anyone conceived it would be. When Ashley Robinson, Todd Wood, and Jerry Kreps first began making plans for the database in 1996, they estimated a budget of $1000, with $250 set aside for "Books and References." The current host of the HDB, Bryan College's Center for Origins Research and Education (CORE), has already invested nearly $900 into its development (mostly on books and references), and they have barely scratched the surface. It is becoming apparent that further development and maintenance of the HDB will require more than just volunteers entering data.
Connectivity and Hardware. At the very minimal bandwidth available, the cost of keeping the HDB on the internet runs around $150/month ($1,800/year), which is currently being subsidized by the Bryan College Computer Science department, since they share the bandwidth with CORE. If and when the HDB becomes popular, the bandwidth demands will increase, and so will the cost. The actual server that runs the HDB is an old Packard Bell 133 MHz Pentium with 48Mb of memory. Higher demand will likely require an upgraded server. Finally, the disk space required for the current HDB will grow exponentially as new hybrid records are identified and added.
Data. Currently, the HDB contains around 3,000 hybrids, mostly from two sources, Gray's Mammalian Hybrids and Bird Hybrids. Several other comprehensive hybrid records await data entry, including 6,268 pages of orchid hybrids in nine volumes. At CORE, two four-drawer filing cabinets are devoted to holding articles from technical, scientific journals that contain information about interspecific hybrids. Currently, there are 672 articles in the filing cabinets, more than 95% of which are not presently in the HDB. CORE also has a list of at least 4,266 other references that contain information about interspecific hybrids, but copies of these articles have not been obtained. Most articles are photocopied at the library of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, which charges 6 cents a copy. At an average length of 5 pages, copying just the 4,266 known interspecific hybrid articles will cost $1279.80, not to mention the hours and hours it would take to copy all of them. Based on the 4,266 records already identified, the curators estimate that many thousands more remain to be discovered.
Data Entry. Data entry from convenient tables like Gray's books is reasonably straightforward and can be accomplished by volunteers with very little biological knowledge or experience. Unfortunately, the references in the filing cabinets rarely have such tables and require a fairly good knowledge of biology to derive the needed information. As a result, the data entry has slowed considerably because the articles require a great deal of time to read and, in some cases, decipher. It is not simply a matter of skimming an abstract and entering the data into the HDB.
Minimally, we project a need of approximately $5000 per year just to maintain the HDB we already have with no future growth. To expand the HDB, we will need new hardware and new personnel.
Connectivity and Hardware Needs. To provide a computational resource that could house a large database and provide fast access to users, we would like to purchase a dual processor Pentium IV system with a RAID array, costing $8,000. Increasing our bandwidth would require an additional annual investment of approximately $6,000. This would give us the maximum bandwidth allowable on our present internet connection.
Data and Data Entry. We recommend that a full-time position of HDB Curator be created for maintaining and upgrading the database. This person should have at least a master's degree in biology, with a salary appropriate to the candidate's education and experience. This would cost between $30,000 and $50,000 annually (which includes the standard benefits package for Bryan College employees). For obtaining articles and books, we project an annual need of $8,000 to keep up with the newly-published records and to continue the quest for older articles.
All of these needs could be met with an endowment of $700,000, which would provide an approximate annual income of $70,000 for the foreseeable future. If you would like to contribute, or know someone who would, please contact us.
The HDB Curators