[tdwg-content] Representing populations as dsw:IndividualOrganisms, was Re: DwC for the semantic web

Steve Baskauf steve.baskauf at vanderbilt.edu
Thu Apr 28 19:42:30 CEST 2011

Comments inline

Mikel Egaña Aranguren wrote:
> I see, so dsw:IndividualOrganism should do for populations. I'm asking 
> cause I have some biodiversity data that perhaps I will publish as 
> Linked Data (Depending on the funding :-) and the data always follow 
> the taxon-population pattern, having for each taxon many populations. 
> I would like to use dsw as vocabulary, most probably extending it to 
> accomodate further concepts like Situation (At risk, etc.)
I think that I would be correct in saying that it was our intention that 
DSW not be any more restrictive than necessary to provide clarity about 
the types (i.e. rdf:type) of resources and how classes are related to 
each other (by means of the object properties we defined to specify the 
relationships among classes).  In that sense DSW would "allow" a 
population to be typed as an IndividualOrganism.  Whether that is a good 
idea or not I guess would be up to you.  The one issue that comes to my 
mind is whether you might at some time intend to define smaller units 
that are subsets of your populations (e.g. subpopulations or actual 
individual organisms).  I think you could do that in the same way that 
you could have a single dsw:IndividualOrganism instance represent a 
whole organism and pieces of it that were specimens or tissue samples.  
This independence of scale of an "Individual" was an idea that Rich Pyle 
talked about in some of his posts in November. We tried to deal with it 
through the separation of the somewhat abstract dsw:IndividualOrganism 
class (representing the relationship between the entity and the 
Occurrence and Identification classes) from the dsw:Token class that can 
represent the actual physical "thing" itself (a preserved specimen, 
living specimen, tissue sample, etc.) all of which can be connected to 
the same IndividualOrganism instance by the dsw:derivedFrom property.  
You might be able to do something like that with populations, 
subpopulations, individual organisms, etc.  But we haven't tried 
modeling that up to this point.  Some of the diagrams on the 
http://code.google.com/p/darwin-sw/wiki/TokenIssues might be analogous 
to that. 

In the spirit of Linked Data, there wouldn't be anything that would 
prevent you from assigning to populations other properties that were 
outside of DSW and Darwin Core, or that you defined yourself, such as a 
hasSituation property or something like that. 
>> 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!
> Have you considered including this ontology in Open Biological and 
> Biomedical Ontologies (http://www.obofoundry.org/)?
At this point, I think that DSW needs to be played with (or shot at??) 
quite a bit more before we'd post it as a "mature" ontology.  Cam and I 
have played with it enough to know that it will validate and can be read 
by Linked Data browsers.  It works as a way to give people access to 
metadata when they try to resolve HTTP URI guids.  But does it actually 
"do" everything people want an a "Semantic Web" sense?  I really don't 
know.  It hasn't been put in a triple store, tested with SPARQL queries, 
etc. yet.


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

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