[Tdwg-obs] On observation definition / moving forward

Lynn Kutner Lynn_Kutner at natureserve.org
Wed Feb 8 23:03:41 CET 2006

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

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