[tdwg-content] Taxon Concept dilemma

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Mon Jul 5 09:26:23 CEST 2010

This is why I'm very uncormfortable with the entire notion of "taxonID".
The main reason I'm pushing so hard for taxonNameUsageID's (ala GNUB) is
that these are the "atoms" (as Dave R. calls them) of both nomenclature
*and* most existing concept definitions.  If we can get permanent and widely
shared/re-used IDs on these "atoms", then we can assmble the complex
molecules from them.  Someone's notion of a taxon concept then becomes a set
of TNUID's.  I have mixed feelings about branding these sets with permanent
GUIDs; but if we did, this is what I imagine taxonID in DwC would
(ultimately) represent.  If we want to archive the sets for posterity, then
we can certainly brand them with IDs.  But I tend to think these can instead
by dynamic services, that assemble the sets either algorithmically, or
through the fingertips of experts.
So...I guess before we do anything, we need to get a common sense for what
is intended to be represented by taxonID.  I suspect my own view is not
shared by all (or even most).


From: tdwg-content-bounces at lists.tdwg.org
[mailto:tdwg-content-bounces at lists.tdwg.org] On Behalf Of Kevin Richards
Sent: Sunday, July 04, 2010 5:44 PM
To: tdwg-content at lists.tdwg.org
Subject: [tdwg-content] Taxon Concept dilemma

Hello all,


I have an issue that I would like some comment on.


We have some data that covers Taxa, Names and Concept relationships.


-          A Taxon table that contains the nomenclatural details + accepted
name + parent name

-          Concept + relationship tables that contain details about the name
+ references where the name has been used in a taxonomic sense (ie not
nomenclatural information) - this is specifically a link between the Name
and a Reference


We have fairly permanent Ids for the Taxon Name (nomenclatural) and the
Concepts, but I now what to consider the ID to cover the whole Taxon (ie the
Nomenclatural data + taxon rank + parent name + accepted name, etc, as "we"
understand them).  (Probably equivalent to the taxonID in Dwc)


The problem is this tends to be much more dynamic data - ie, in this
particular case we have aggregated data from a variety of providers and are
in continual revision of this data - as we revise the data the details such
as the accepted name may change - this troubles me a bit, because this could
be seen as fundamentally changing the definition of the object behind the
taxonID.  However, I suspect this is a common case that people find
themselves in - ie revision/tidying of aggregated datasets must be quite


I would prefer to NOT change the taxonID every time we revise that data
(taking the angle that these changes are corrections, so are not changing
the object itself).

Should it be OK to have an object type like this, that is likely to change,
but keep the ID permanent for it - ie accept that some object types are
quite dynamic?


The only other option is to maintain a hideous version audit trail, that
probably hinders the use of the data more than it benefits the end user by
providing "stability".


Any thoughts?




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