[tdwg-content] FW: [STDTRK] Request for a Decision for Public Review of DarwinCore Draft Standard

Donald Hobern dhobern at gmail.com
Mon Jul 27 03:03:25 CEST 2009

At Gail's request, I'm forwarding some discussion between Renato and myself
on the Darwin Core draft




You are quite right - domains and ranges may cause us more problems.  At
very least it may be sensible for these to be things which get asserted
within other OWL files used within specific projects to govern their own
application models and inference rules.

In the end my concerns are really around the need for more clarity on the
way that the dcTerms:type values are to be used and how this relates to past
use of Darwin Core.  I'm not sure I ultimately disagree with any of the
decisions made.  However I still cannot find any actual definition for the
Occurrence and Event cases to explain what situations they are intended to
cover.  Unless we take the time to define the intended scope for all our
terms and property values, it is hard to predict whether data from multiple
sources can be expected to be suitable for combination.

The scientific name case is one example.  I would like an explicit statement
that it means nothing more than "the name of a taxon (somehow) associated
with this record" rather like a Dublin Core subject.  If, e.g. in the case
of an Occurrence record, it is meant to be a statement that a taxon was
actually recorded at the location on the given date, we may need to be more
explicit.  I'm still not comfortable with leaving these things unstated.

I must however emphasise that I am very happy to see how much work has gone
into this revision and the level of forethought in addressing many important


-----Original Message-----
From: renato at cria.org.br [mailto:renato at cria.org.br] 
Sent: Friday, 24 July 2009 7:04 AM
Subject: RE: [STDTRK] Request for a Decision for Public Review of DarwinCore
Draft Standard

Hi Donald,

Scientific name is precisely the kind of term that I feel should be
generic. There's an ancient search interface at CRIA that illustrates the
use case "give me everything you have related with this scientific name":

(check all checkboxes at the bottom of the page)

In SPARQL I think the query would simply look like:

WHERE { ?x  <http://rs.tdwg.org/ont/scientificName>  "some name" }

instead of repeating the same condition for every possible combination of

Most id properties (collectionID, locationID, etc.) should also probably
be "domainless" since they can appear in objects from many different

Best Regards,

> Looking at what is in the DwC document, I think my concerns are with
> plans to use DwC for checklist data rather than the DwC proposal itself,
> but the problem issue may be in there somewhere.  Here are some comments I

> sent earlier:
> I need to take some time and provide some comments on the use of Darwin
> Core for non-occurrence data.  In general I believe we need to be moving
> towards simple class properties with tightly defined explanations of the
> expected content and format.  This use of DwC seems to me to be a
> significant dilution of the semantic content of these properties.  If DwC
> is an object property just for a taxon occurrence, the explanation of
> dwc:ScientificName would be something like "The scientific name assigned
> to the taxon to which the recorded organism was identified".  If we extend

> it to cover taxon occurrences, checklist entries and all the other things
> that people seem to have in mind, the explanation would reduce to "The
> scientific name which is associated with this record".  In practice few
> people will be stumbled, but I really don't like it.  It would be so easy
> just to have chk:ScientificName as well as dwc:ScientificName and to keep
> the semantics explicit. This becomes particularly problematic when we
> play with RDFS and OWL. We could choose to define the "dwc:ScientificName"
> property to have a domain restricted to TaxonOccurrence, allowing a
> reasoner > to infer that objects with this property can be treated as 
> TaxonOccurrence records.  With the diluted dwc:ScientificName all we can 
> infer is that the object is a 
> ThingWithSomethingToDoWithTheBiologicalDomain.
> Donald

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