[tdwg-content] DwC for the semantic web

Steve Baskauf steve.baskauf at vanderbilt.edu
Thu Apr 28 15:41:49 CEST 2011

Thanks for your suggestion.  There was quite a bit of discussion last 
October and November about how to handle groups of organisms above the 
level of an individual organism.  I won't repeat it here because it's 
referenced in the DSW wiki pages, particularly 
http://code.google.com/p/darwin-sw/wiki/ClassIndividual .  As a point of 
clarification, the class dsw:IndividualOrganism as we have defined it in 
DSW does not specify that an instance of the class must actually be an 
individual organism.  It should be understood to be a taxonomically 
homogeneous entity which can be assigned zero to many dwc:Identification 
instances, be recorded by zero to many dwc:Occurrence instances, and be 
documented by zero to many dsw:Token instances .  So really anything 
that meets those criteria could be considered a dsw:IndividualOrganism,  
including clonal organisms, colonial organisms, small populations, and I 
suppose also parts of organisms (such as tissue cultures) if one 
wanted.  At one point we considered using the name 
TaxonomicallyHomogeneousEntity, but that seemed unwieldy. 

So I guess my response would be to say that a population could be 
considered an instance of dsw:IndividualOrganism.  It would need to be 
well-defined enough that it could be potentially documented as a 
dwc:Occurrence, but since dwc:Event and dcterms:Location (which are 
associated with a dwc:Occurrence) can potentially have a very broad 
scope, I think that there would not be a problem with classing a 
population as a dsw:IndividualOrganism .  Certainly entities such as a 
stable animal herd or immobile plant population could be handled by it 
and maybe other things as well.

I should also note that the page 
http://code.google.com/p/darwin-sw/wiki/TaxonomicHeterogeneity presents 
the topic of how to model taxonomically heterogeneous groups of 
organisms, which was the topic of an extended discussion in November.  
We did not include a class to handle such groups in our basic ontology, 
mostly because we didn't know how to do it.  However, the wiki page just 
mentioned suggests a possible approach and perhaps people with more 
skill in defining OWL ontologies than Cam and I have could suggest an 
approach that would actually be able to handle that more complex 

I did not state in my first email that DSW is essentially a draft 
intended to foster discussion (such as this).  We make no claims that it 
is or should be "THE" ontology.  Cam and I needed something functional 
for our projects, so we just made DSW to serve that purpose. 

Thanks again for the comment/suggestion!


Mikel Egaña Aranguren wrote:
> Hi;
> Perhaps this has been discussed before, but I think there should be a 
> class for population.
> Different populations of the same taxon are located in different places, 
> each population with its own circumstances (e.g. some will be at risk 
> and some not).
> Cheers
> On og., 2011.eko apiren 28a 04:01, Steve Baskauf wrote:
>> Dear colleagues,
>> With the exciting development of Semantic Web technologies, many of us already need a way to consistently express DwC in RDF.  In particular, we need it to meet the requirements for GUID resolution (as expressed in the TDWG applicability guide) and to be able to share and aggregate diverse kinds of biodiversity metadata in the Linked Open Data world.
>> After several months of development, stimulated by the tdwg-content discussions of last Fall, we would like to offer an
>> ontology for consideration, based on Darwin Core terms:
>>     Darwin-SW:
>>       General site: http://code.google.com/p/darwin-sw/
>>       Using namespace dsw = "http://purl.org/dsw/"
>> It is a candidate for general usage, but we do not claim it is _the_ solution, and greatly respect the efforts by others to develop similar ontologies, from which we have learned much. However, for DSW, we wanted to use existing DwC terms for classes and data properties whenever possible and only create new terms when there were no existing terms that would do the job.  We did feel that there was a need for clarity in how resources should be typed (i.e. rdf:type property) and for object properties that expressed the relationships among classes unambiguously. Please see the Rationale, DesignPrinciples and ClassesAndTypes wiki pages at the above address.
>> In the ontology, we sought to embody relationships among classes based on our perception of the community consensus of what the classes represent and how they are related to each other, as expressed in posts to the tdwg-content list.  Thus each class is documented carefully on the wiki with hyperlinked references to specific tdwg-content posts. We also sought
>> to clarify or resolve issues that were raised in the list discussion, most notably the relationship among Occurrences and the evidence that documents them (i.e. tokens), and the role of "individuals".  See wiki pages for the Token, Occurrence, and IndividualOrganism classes.
>> The ontology is now in use at http://bioimages.vanderbilt.edu/, and we intend to use it more widely.  We would value your opinions on the fitness of this ontology as a general solution for consistently expressing DwC concepts in RDF.
>> Sincerely,
>> Steve Baskauf and Cam Webb
>> steve.baskauf at Vanderbilt.Edu
>> cwebb at oeb.harvard.edu
>> _______________________________________________
>> tdwg-content mailing list
>> tdwg-content at lists.tdwg.org
>> http://lists.tdwg.org/mailman/listinfo/tdwg-content

Steven J. Baskauf, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer
Vanderbilt University Dept. of Biological Sciences

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