[tdwg-content] DwC taxonomic terms

Markus Döring m.doering at mac.com
Thu Aug 6 14:31:59 CEST 2009

Dear John & DwC friends,

after finally having time to review the current dwc terms again I came  
across a couple of issues I'd like to see discussed or even changed. I  
am working for nearly 1 year now with the new terms during their  
development, especially with the new and modified taxonomic terms. So  
far they work very well in practice, but there are a few improvements  
I can think of, mostly related to the latest changes shortly before  
the public review started. I have added them as separate issues to the  
google code site, but list them here in one go. The number of issues  
is larger than I hoped for, but most of them are minor terminology  
issues for consistency and not touching the core meaning of the terms.


#47   rename basionym(ID) to originalName(ID)
The intend for this term is really to reflect where a name originally  
comes from in case it is a recombination. The term basionym is mostly  
used with botanists and covers only the cases when an epithet remains  
the same, i.e. not replacement names. The best matching, broader term  
therefore is originalName I think. Changes have to be done to both the  
verbatim name and the ID.

Good examples for synonyms, basionyms, replaced names etc can be found  
in this document:

#48   remove taxonConceptID
The conceptID is intended to state that 2 name usages / potential taxa  
are the same, even if they use a different name. This is a special  
case of true concept relations and I would much prefer to see this  
covered in a dedicated extension treating all concept relations,  
especially frequent cases such as includes, overlaps, etc. I am more  
than willing to define such an extension

#49   rename scientificNameID, acceptedScientificNameID and  
no matter what the final term names are I think the 3 ones should be  
consistent. Originally it was intended to call them   taxonID,  
acceptedTaxonID and higherTaxonID
with a loose definition of a taxon, more based on the idea of that all  
terms here are taxonomic terms and therefore contain taxon in their  
name. The current version  scientificNameID, acceptedScientificNameID  
and higherTaxonNameID intends to do the same I believe, but the  
terminology invites people to use them not referring to each other  
from what I have seen so far in practice.
Concrete recomendations:

#49a   replace scientificNameID with nameUsageID
There is the need to uniquely identify a taxon concept with a given  
name, a name usage. A nameID suggests the name is unique which it isnt  
if combined with an sec reference aka taxonAccordingTo. A taxonID  
suggests to refer to a distinct taxon concept. A name usage seems the  
smallest entity and can therefore be used to act as a sort of unique  
key for names, taxa, taxon concepts or just usages of a name. All  
other taxonomic dwc ID terms can and should point to a name usage id  
then. This makes me think if most/all other IDs should reflect this in  
their names, see below.

It could make sense to keep scientificNameID as a ID to the name as  
defined by a nomenclator. But this ID can also be used as a name usage  
id, so in order to gain clarity I would prefer to have the term removed.

#49b rename acceptedScientificName(ID) to acceptedNameUsage(ID)
this term should point to the name usage that reflects the "accepted"  
taxon in case of synonyms, no matter if they are objective or  
subjective. AcceptedScientificName sounds more like a nomenclatural  
exercise and in accordance with #3 (nameUsageID) the term  
acceptedNameUsage(ID) would be the best fit in my eyes.

#49c rename higherTaxonName(ID) to higherNameUsage(ID)
in consistency with nameUsage & acceptedNameUsage

#50 remove recommendation to concatenate multiple values, especially  
for higherTaxonName/higherNameUsage

similar to originalName or acceptedNameUsage this term is meant to be  
a verbatim pointer to the higher taxon as an alternative way of using  
higherTaxonNameID. Therefore it should only contain a single name, the  
direct parent, in my eyes. There are also already the 7 mayor ranks as  
separate terms that can be used to express a flattened hierarchy.
I am aware DwC suggests to use concatenated lists in a single term in  
other places, e.g. , but I believe it would be better to keep the  
meaning singular and use multiple instances of that term to express  
multiple values. Dublin Core also recommends to use multiple XML  
elements for multiple values, see recommendation 5 in http://dublincore.org/documents/dc-xml-guidelines/

#51 rename namePublicationID to namePublishedInID
for consistency with namePublishedIn

#52 rename (verbatim)scientificNameRank to (verbatim)rank
to avoid discussions about whether the rank belongs to the name or the  
taxon and also because its nice and short and there is no clash in  
biological terminology.

More information about the tdwg-content mailing list