[Tdwg-obs] On observation definition / moving forward

Robert K. Peet peet at unc.edu
Wed Feb 1 04:52:42 CET 2006

Hi Lynn

> "An observation characterizes the occurrence of an organism or set of
> organisms through a data collection event at a location. Observations
> are not necessarily independent entities and could be linked via
> characteristics such as time, place, protocol, and co-occurring
> organisms."
> As a next step, we propose to develop more fully the definitions for the
> following words or phrases. As we we work through these definitions,
> please keep in mind addressing the issues that have been raised
> regarding topics such as: negative data, protocol, spatial temporal
> issues, and data aggregation.
>        occurrence

Perhaps change "occurrence" 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 certainly.

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".)

>        data collection event
= An event, during or after which at least the minimum required data 
were recorded.

>        location
Ideally, at least geocoordinates plus an accuracy term.  We may wish to 
support such primitive location indicators as place names, but this is 
dangerous and I would prefer to require translation of names into 
geocoordinates and precision.

The geocoordinates should also be allowed to be associated with a set of 
points that define the edges of an area, or other spatial metadata.

>        entity
Deletion of this word from the definition might help

>        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


      Robert K. Peet, Professor & Chair         Phone:  919-962-6942
      Curriculum in Ecology, CB#3275            Fax:    919-962-6930
      University of North Carolina              Cell:   919-368-4971
      Chapel Hill, NC  27599-3275  USA          Email:  peet at unc.edu

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