TDWG-SDD and morphological data sets

Julian H humphries at MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU
Thu Apr 15 11:36:46 CEST 2004

At 10:44 AM 4/15/2004, you wrote:

>I also understand that data sets of diagnostic identification
>information are far from complete descriptions of concepts in either a
>taxonomic or phylogenetic sense, but if the SDD concept schema could
>accommodate additional characters, then the opportunity would be there
>for other people to use SDD for other kinds of systems.  The UI of
>diagnostic key programs would likely not need to use or display DNA
>sequences for interactive identification, but no harm done, they could
>just ignore fields of no use to the program at hand.

Jim questions/comments encouraged me to bring up a somewhat related
question about SDD.

I am involved in a project to provide a variety of tools for
collaboratively creating, managing and annotating digital morphological
(DM) data.  By and large, DM means pixel and voxel (mostly voxel) data
derived from various tomographic instrumentation, but the system will also
allow collection and storage of scanned illustrations or even just words
and numbers.  My initial inclination for such a system (at its most basic,
a taxon by character matrix) was that it primarily served as a tool for
collaborative building of matrices for phylogenetic analysis (but allowing
all to see the actual character states rather than simply a terse word
description), but quickly it became obvious that some folks might store
regular descriptive data. Thus, I started thinking about how this would
communicate with a variety of outside tools:  tree building (Nexus), keys
(Delta, SDD), etc.

The system will also effectively act as an archive for published data sets
(not in the formal sense at this point, but simply because the data reside
in a network accessible database) with the added advantage of users being
able to actually see and interact with the data that produced the
conclusions seen in a paper.

The point of this long introduction is that I want to reinforce the idea
that SDD concept schema should be broad enough to accommodate  additional
character types, including not only sequence/protein/gene data but digital
proxies of a variety of morphological data types as well.  The "dentary" in
a voxel data set might be represented by a database structure that encodes
which voxels in a tomographic data brick belong to that particularly
structure.  If I need to pass this information on to an interactive
identification tool, will SDD have a schema for passing the information?

Looking for magic bullets....


Julian Humphries
Geological Sciences
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712

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