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* Invertebrate Germplasm
* Reports
 National Invertebrate Genetic Resources

History of the ROBO Database

The genesis of the ROBO database began with the formation of the Biological Control Documentation Center (BCDC) by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in 1982. Following an intensive "user survey" in 1984, a ROBO database was developed on a Wang computer system at the ARS Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Maryland. This early development is described by J.R. Coulson (1992, Crop Protection 11: 195-205). Information on the development of ROBO was also included in the reports of releases of beneficial organisms in the first three years recorded in the database, 1981-83, published by the USDA in 1988, 1992, and 1994, respectively. Paper or microfiche copies of these reports are available from the National Technical Information Service (5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, VA 22161, telephone 703-487-4600). Limited numbers of paper copies of the reports are also available from the BCDC.

By 1991, it became obvious that a much more "user friendly" system for data entry and access than was possible on the Wang was needed for ROBO. An agreement was entered into between the ARS BCDC, the ARS Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), and the APHIS National Biological Control Institute (NBCI) to bring about this needed modernization of the database, to be accessible via the GRIN system. A Workshop on Biological Control Documentation was organized by the three cooperating units, and was held in May 1994 at Beltsville. Responses to prior questionnaires, and comments made by the participants at the Workshop, provided the groundwork for reprogramming of a more "user friendly" ROBO. Information on the participants and minutes of the Workshop are available from the BCDC or NBCI.

In 1997, a detailed description of the proposed new ROBO was prepared and sent to USDA and university entomologists and microbiologists at selected foreign and quarantine facilities. In 1998, ROBO data was successfully moved from the Wang to the Sun computer of the ARS Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), and programming of the revised new ROBO database commenced, initially under an ARS contract with Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Inc. Subsequently, the ARS-GRIN Database Management Unit carried out extensive modification and further programming activities. Though the new ROBO database is still in the process of development, in 1999, it was made available via the Internet and importation and release data for 1981-1985 could be searched. These data are still in the process of being corrected as necessary, and search capabilities are being refined.

In 2001, the first of the new ROBO on-line data entry forms became operational: the 941 form for recording importations into the United States of invertebrate biological control material, and the export of such material to other countries. By the end of the year, all importations into USDA and some cooperating state and university quarantine facilities had been entered into ROBO for the years 1986-1990, and these data can be searched. Information on exports during this period has also been entered and is searchable. By this date (December 2001), the on-line 941 form is still being refined.
Updated 20-Oct-2005
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