[Tdwg-obs] Survey and Monitoring

Lynn Kutner Lynn_Kutner at natureserve.org
Tue Nov 15 23:10:52 CET 2005

Overall I like the direction of Denis's proposed definition, but I have a comment and a question.

Comment - I propose to explicitly expand the definition of an obervation to include both organisms and ecological communities (such as vegetation).

And a question - does the "defined protocol" need to be a published document, or can the protocol be more informal? I think that the observer should provide some minimal documentation of how they made that particular spatiotemporal observation, but I'd imagine there's quite a bit of high quality observation in existence that was collected opportunistically and not necessarily using a published protocol. 

Thanks - 

Lynn Kutner
Email:    lynn_kutner at natureserve.org
Phone:   (303) 541-0360

-----Original Message-----
From: Tdwg-obs-bounces at lists.tdwg.org [mailto:Tdwg-obs-bounces at lists.tdwg.org] On Behalf Of Denis Lepage
Sent: Tuesday, November 15, 2005 2:48 PM
To: Tdwg-obs at lists.tdwg.org
Subject: Re: [Tdwg-obs] Survey and Monitoring

Hi everyone,

Sorry for throwing a spike in the wheel, but I'm not sure I like the current definition of what constitute an observation, and I think we need to get it right.

"An observation is a collection event that describes a phenomenon, and is bound to the spatiotemporal location where it was made. Furthermore, an observation describes an occurrence and can be linked to descriptions of other occurrences." 

1) I tend to find the word "phenomenon" too vague in the first part of our definition. The main phenomenon we're trying to observe is the occurrence (or the absence) of one or more organisms. I'm not sure what other phenomena we're trying to include here? 

2) I'm also a bit puzzled by the fact that an observation is defined as the collection event. It seems to me that multiple observations are made during a collection event, and that the 2 are different things. 

Here's an attempt to address my 2 points with a new definition. 

"An observation is the characterization of the occurrence of an organism through a collection event with a defined protocol and spatiotemporal location. Individual observations are non-independant entities that can be linked to each other through their common characteristics."


p.s. I agree with Arthur Chapman's comments about including community-specific information into extensions of the main observation schema. Keeping the core schema small will be the biggest challenge we face, since we deal with a multitude of needs from various communities. 

Denis Lepage,  Senior Scientist/Chercheur sénior 
National Data Center/Centre national des données
Bird Studies Canada/Études d'Oiseaux Canada
PO Box/B.P. 160, Port Rowan, ON  N0E 1M0
519-586-3531 ext. 225, fax/téléc. 519-586-3532

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