[Tdwg-obs] On observation definition / moving forward

Steve Kelling stk2 at cornell.edu
Thu Feb 9 18:55:01 CET 2006

I really like the improvements made on the definition, and I might suggest 
that I put it up on the TDWG-obs website http://www.avianknowledge.net/tdwg.
I think we still need to define occurrence, and I think that Arthur 
Chapman's "species occurrence data" gets us most of the way there. My sense 
is that the elaborations need to be expanded a bit more. For example, data 
collection event.  I suggest that we include in the definition some 
information about time, minimum required data, and so forth. These 
definitions can be longer and more detailed than the observation 
definition. So taking data collection event:  An event, during or after 
which at least the minimum required data were recorded.

Can we identify the minimum required data? For us it is:
who the collector is
where the information was collected (and should refer to occurrence 
information and all of the discussion with it)
when the data and time
what was observed (and how many)
effort distance covered, time spent etc.
I'm sure there are other data for the minimum required data and this is 
worth discussion.

We should also discuss the event. For example, one of ours and Bird Studies 
Canada projects (Project FeederWatch) the event can last 2 days.

We also need to think about whether we want to include protocol. In our 
definitions no protocol (incidental observation) is also a protocol.

Anyway, thanks for the improvements on the definition of observation. I 
(like Lynn) look forward to discussing some of these other issues.


At 05:03 PM 2/8/2006 -0500, you wrote:
>With only comments from Bob & Arthur (thanks!), the latest version of
>observation definitions is as follows:
>"An observation characterizes the evidence for the presence or absence
>of an organism or set of organisms through a data collection event at a
>location. Observations are not necessarily independent and could be
>linked via characteristics such as time, place, protocol, and
>co-occurring organisms."
>With the following draft elaborations for various terms (many thanks to
>Bob Peet for providing most of these draft definitions):
>1) occurrence
>"Occurrence" has been changed to "evidence for the presence or absence".
>The key idea is that the organism or set of organisms was either
>detected or not.  We also need to provide an opportunity for the
>recorder to note the certainty.
>As an aside, recall we need to support minimalist protocols (e.g.
>"organism/community (not)seen in field", "organism heard in field",
>"scat seen in field", "tracks seen in field", "museum collection".)
>2) data collection event
>An event, during or after which at least the minimum required data were
>3) location
>Ideally, at least geocoordinates plus an accuracy term. Since there is a
>considerable amount of historical / legacy data that does not presently
>have a georeference yet has valuable information that should be included
>in observation databases and shared, we cannot at this time require data
>to be in a GIS format.
>I (Lynn) suggest:
>(a) Location information be required, preferably geocoordinates and
>mapping precision, but if not available then a text description and the
>finest level of geolocation using the Darwin Core attributes.
>(b) Location data include the representation of observations as point,
>line, or polygon data (with the necessary spatial metadata).
>4) entity
>Dropped from the definition of observation.
>5) could be linked
>Can have a pointer or pointers to other observations, thereby creating
>aggregate observations.  Note that commonality of date, time, place,
>etc. is not sufficient in that the none of the observation authors
>explicitly made the connection
>Please share your comments / thoughts on all of the above definitions
>with this email list.
>If people are generally comfortable with the above as working
>defintions, then I'd like to propose that we move into the fun part of
>identifying attributes to be developed into a schema.
>Thank you -
>Lynn Kutner
>Data Management Coordinator
>phone: (303) 541-0360
>email:  lynn_kutner at natureserve.org
>Tdwg-obs mailing list
>Tdwg-obs at lists.tdwg.org

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