[tdwg-content] canonicalScientificName

Peter Desmet peter.desmet at umontreal.ca
Tue Mar 13 20:27:49 CET 2012

Hi everyone,

In a recent tweet [1] Roderic Page reminded me that in Darwin Core, we
don't have a ready-to-use scientificName field. The definition for
scientificName [2] asks for the full verbose name, including authors.
I think this is a good definition (see below), but it also means that
in a lot of use cases, names need to be parsed before they can be used
or matched. I am currently helping collections publish their data for
Candensys [3] and as a data producer I am happy we can provide all the
information we have in scientificName, but as a data user, I get
frustrated every time I see those long verbose botanical names with
multiple authors. I am convinced that our data would be more usable if
we had an additional canonicalScientificName term.

Which is why I am now officially requesting it on the Darwin Core code
site: http://code.google.com/p/darwincore/issues/detail?id=150 (see
below). This has been discussed in detail before [4], but no consensus
was reached. I hope we can get our act together this time!


Peter Desmet


[1] https://twitter.com/#!/rustyrussell22/status/179500954901692417
[2] http://rs.tdwg.org/dwc/terms/index.htm#scientificName
[3] http://www.canadensys.net
[4] http://lists.tdwg.org/pipermail/tdwg-content/2010-November/thread.html#1976

==New Term Recommendation==
Submitter: Peter Desmet

Justification: The scientific name is probably the most used element
of an occurrence/taxon, but currently Darwin Core does not provide a
single ready-to-use-field for this. A canonicalScientificName with the
scientific name as a uninomial, binomial or trinomial could solve this
The current terms are not sufficient:
- scientificName: verbose, used to record all components of a
scientific name (if available), including authorship(s) and
rankmarker(s). It is critical to keep this definition, as this term is
sometimes the only place to share certain information, e.g.:
quadrinomials, intermediate botanical authors, hybrid formulas, etc.
The disadvantage of only having this verbose notation is that the user
needs to parse the name before he/she can use or match it.
- genus, specificEpithet, infraspecificEpithet: concatenated, this
terms are identical to the canonicalScientificName for genera, species
and infraspecific taxa. For higher taxa or infrageneric taxa, these
terms are not sufficient. In addition, there is some ambiguity
regarding the genus definition: for synonyms, is it the accepted genus
or the genus that is part of the synonym name? See:
In the former case, the genus cannot be used to concatenate a

The need for this term has been discussed thoroughly already (see:
but no consensus was reached. I'd like to reopen the discussion and I
hope that a consensus can be reached quickly, so our data can be used
more easily.

Definition: The scientific name as a uninomial, binomial or trinomial.
When forming part of an Identification, this should be the name in
lowest level taxonomic rank that can be determined. This term should
not contain authorship(s), rankmarker(s) or identification
qualifications. If the scientific name cannot be expressed as a uni-,
bi- or trinomial (e.g. hybrid formulas), do not use this term (use
scientificName instead).

Comment: Examples: "Carex" (genus), "Vulpes vulpes" (species),
"Anaphalis margaritacea occidentalis" (plant variety)


Has Domain:

Has Range:


ABCD 2.06:

Peter Desmet
Biodiversity Informatics Manager
Canadensys - www.canadensys.net

Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre
4101 rue Sherbrooke est
Montreal, QC, H1X2B2

Phone: 514-343-6111 #82354
Fax: 514-343-2288
Email: peter.desmet at umontreal.ca / peter.desmet.cubc at gmail.com
Skype: anderhalv
Public profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/peterdesmet

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