[tdwg-content] Name is species concept thinking
pete.devries at gmail.com
Mon Jun 14 03:30:30 CEST 2010
I would go about this in a different but not necessarily better way.
You have three entities that some would say make up one species and others
would say are three species.
There are two aspect to this:
1) To what extent are these three entities more species like than subspecies
2) To what extent are other groups treating these as separate species or as
#1) I would check would see to what extent there is actual gene flow between
these different entities. This seems a more direct way to answer this than
analyzing other descriptions.
If they do seem to be more species-like then document the within
population gene variation and document the morphological and other
characters that seem to separate these entities.
Expose that data via a URI for each of the species concepts.
If they seem to be more like subpopulations of one species then you
have to decide if they will be treated as what I call "ObjectiveSpecies".
Objective species are those entities that people
have chosen to model as species even if they might not be. So all
species are in a sense at least "Objective Species"
I use Objective species to separate domestic varieties like *Felis
catus* from their wild relatives *Felis silvestris lybica. *Why? because
occurrence records and publications about the house cat should
not necessarily seen as relating to the African Wildcat.
2) How other people treat this entity is important. If they are seeing it as
a separate entity and marking up their related records as if it a separate
entity then maybe it is best modeled as an
objective species with it's own URI. You can always merge these records
yourself if you want to consider them one species in your analysis, and it
is easier to merge than split.
If the DNA population analysis suggest that there is some reality to
these subpopulations then you record that, if not you note the DNA issue in
your species description info.
In looking over how other groups conceptualize these entities, it seems as
if many are going with the three species alternative. This includes ITIS,
CoL and Wikipedia (DBpedia) and various Bird related
So here is how I modeled these, below are links to the RDF and to what the
LOD knows about them via Sindice.
Blue-headed Vireo *Vireo solitarius*
Cassin's Vireo *Vireo cassinii *
Plumbeous Vireo *Vireo plumbeus *
I don't see these different approaches as either / or I think that they are
complimentary but different ways to doing this depending on what kinds of
questions you want to ask.
On Sun, Jun 13, 2010 at 5:55 AM, David Remsen (GBIF) <dremsen at gbif.org>wrote:
> What you described in 1-5 was exactly the scope and function of uBio
> NameBank and ClassificationBank. This functionality has been refined in
> our ChecklistBank index.
> It serves to provide a consistent resolution service for "Taxon Concept
> Service Providers".
> By linking to a populated GNUB it would also have an improved means to
> provide the protonym circumscription of the concept, as you describe in (5).
> In addition, we would like to support the inclusion of bibliographic
> data, specimens, geospatial information, and general descriptive data.
> The DwC Archive approach provides one (not exclusively but I would
> appreciate pointers to others) means to mobilise these data from people who
> have it.
> In (5) you describe the protonym-based circumscription to evaluate the
> relative agreement of the identified concepts (via 'meta-authorities').
> This provides the basis for expanding the potential set of names for a
> subsequent data retrieval from GBIF (for example) to include all the related
> nomenclatural and lexical variants for those names (of course checking for
> homonym conflicts among them). Again, this is consistent to what was
> implemented in uBio services and we are currently implementing in our
> Checklist Bank (CLB) (I use the term General Concept Mapping for this
> process). I'm not sure I agree that this provides a true concept-based
> system, however. I would call it a concept-informed system.
> In (6) it appears the output of the Taxon Concept resolution process is
> either an expanded set of name strings or an array of protonymIDs. I can
> see this is an option in (6). If the latter, I can see how this would
> provide a more precise concept-informed but name-based retrieval method and
> probably the best we can expect from large indices like GBIF. But I don't
> see how it will support a strict concept-based retrieval.
> The real world example that forms my litmus test is the blue-headed vireo,
> Vireo solitarius (Wilson 1810) which was originally called Muscicapa
> solitaria and has also been combined to form Vireosylvia solitaria and
> Lanivireo solitarius. Of course there are lexical variants as well (Google
> "Lanivireo solitaria" for example). These, properly structured, would be
> the sort of useful set of lexical/nomenclatural content I would hope as a
> response from a GNI/GNUB resolution service based on protonymID.
> One current view of the taxon (concept C1) has this species occupying the
> eastern part of the US. Another species, Vireo plumbeus Coues, 1866,
> (concept C2) occupies the middle west USA, and a third species, Vireo
> cassini Xántus de Vesey, 1858 (concept C3) is on the western coast.
> Another view lumps all three of these into a single species which, based on
> the rule of priority, has the valid name Vireo solitarius and results in a
> new concept (C4). This concept includes C1, C2, and C3. Both concepts
> have the scientific name of Vireo solitarius.
> We can access and represent these in a consistent fashion using our CLB and
> probably others can too in their own index models.
> So, now we have a specimen of Vireo solitarius that was captured in
> Minnesota. It might be an errant instance of C1, Vireo solitarius sensu
> stricto, that strayed a bit west of normal. It might be (C4) Vireo
> solitarius, sensu lato. The specimen would need that concept identifier
> tied to the record to make this explicit. So, let's say that the
> identifier was made using the lumped concept (C4). Of course, if this
> doesn't make it into the record, we are stuck with the name alone.
> Using the method (6) you described would allow a user to discover the
> different treatments of Vireo solitarius (C1 and C4) and provide some means
> to discriminate them via concept resolution.
> - C4 includes C1, C2, and C3 which would include all the names above.
> - C1 would only include the nomenclatural/lexical variants for Vireo
> Resolution will enable us to perform a significantly more useful and
> concept-informed search. It will, however, include the specimen I
> referenced above in BOTH cases because "Vireo solitarius" or it's protonymID
> will be a search term in both cases.
> A more precise concept based system would utilise a required taxon concept
> identifier in the specimen record to discriminate different uses of the SAME
> NAME. In other words, if you did a search of Vireo solitarius and the
> concept resolver indicated the different concepts above and you chose the
> sensu stricto (split) version, you would get the C1 labelled records but
> the C4 labelled records would be excluded or at least come with a warning
> (may not be what you are looking for). This of course requires our specimen
> records to have a concept identifier. Or, the concept definition itself
> will include additional annotations to enable us to make inferences
> Publication date of the concept - If the split didn't happen until 1980 and
> the specimen is from 1960 then we could infer C4.
> Distribution information for the concept - if we disregard errant specimens
> then we might infer a 1985 Minnesota specimen is a C2 in spite of the
> different name.
> In sum, we are on track for achieving this and I believe our data
> mobilisation strategy will support getting these sort of data published.
> When Markus returns from paternity leave I would hope we could include his
> thoughts on how we might expose these as RDF via our indices to support all
> aspects of this discussion.
> On Jun 13, 2010, at 2:37 AM, Richard Pyle wrote:
> Tim: Coffee time.
>> Here's how I imagine this would work under GNA, integrated with GBIF:
>> 1. Person submits text-string "Puma concolor" to a GNA-aware mapping
>> 2. Service fires text string off to GNI, and sees how many lexical buckets
>> are involved, and how many protonyms are represented in those buckets.
>> 3. If problems of Homonymy/Homography exist (i.e., if more than one
>> legitimate Protonym for a species-group name "concolor" has ever been
>> combined with a genus-group name "Puma"), then the service replies with a
>> page that says "Do you mean the big cat, or do you mean the protozoa?"
>> (pretending, for a moment, that the name "Puma concolor" has also been
>> applied to a protozoa). Perhaps the service can also review the usage
>> history of the two names, and algorithmically determine that they most
>> likely meant the big cat -- but at least alert the user that a potential
>> case of homonymy/homography exists.
>> 4. If step 2 yielded no apaprent homonymy/Homography, or if the user
>> selected one from among more than one Homonyms/Homographs, then the
>> takes the selected ProtonymID and throws it at a GNUB-aware taxon concept
>> 5. The GNUB-aware Taxon Concept resolver looks at how many Taxon Concept
>> Service Providers (e.g., ITIS, EOL, WoRMS, etc.) have made some sort of
>> concept-definition assertion about the Protonym. In most cases, this
>> could/should be as simple as "Concept Service [X] says that for Protonym
>> [IDp], follow taxon name usage-instance [IDtnu]". Given [IDtnu], GNUB will
>> tell us which Genus combination to use, which orthographic spelling to
>> which taxon rank to use, and which set of Protonyms should be regarded as
>> subjective synonyms of the taxon concept represented by [IDtnu]. If the
>> different taxon concept providers (I call them "Meta Authorities") all
>> (i.e., each taxon concept provider yields the same set of ProtonymIDs),
>> no user interaction is required on this step. If there are different
>> interpretations of what the current treatment of "Puma concolor [big cat]"
>> should be, then the user is presented with the different options (and
>> perhaps a bit of information on what the different active concepts are, in
>> terms of distribution and/or classification).
>> 6. The resultant set of Protonym IDs from step 5 (the original ProtonymID
>> from step 2/3, plus the exploded set of Protonyms for
>> synonyms from step 5), are then thrown at GBIF (which would be GNA-Aware,
>> and thus know how to translate all the ProtonymIDs into a larger set of
>> text-string names and/or GBIF may have already cashed this by converting
>> text-string names from occurrence providers into ProtonymIDs via GNI).
>> 7. The user is then presented with a distributional map from GBIF
>> records, based on the selected Protonym of the original submitted
>> text-string name, cast in the context of the set of heterotypic synonyms
>> established in Step 5.
>> The bad news is that this sounds incredibly complicated. The good news is
>> that it's actually not. Especially not from the user's perspective.
>> In the WORST case scenario, the user needs to provide three pieces of
>> 1. The text-string name submitted in Step 1.
>> 2. A decision in the case of Homonyms/Homographs, what
>> they're after.
>> 3. A decision about which Meta Authority to follow for the taxon concept.
>> This, again, is the WORST case scenario. A much more likely scenario
>> involves fewere steps for the end user.
>> Step 2 only applies in the 10%(ish) cases of text-string names involved in
>> some sort of Homonymy/Homography problem. So in 90%(ish) of cases, step 2
>> won't come into play.
>> Step 3 only applies in cases where the Meta-Authorities disagree on the
>> current usage of a name (e.g., ITIS is a lumper, WoRMS is a splitter).
>> in cases where there is disagreement, the user could simply be presnted
>> two (or more) maps, showing each of the current interpretations/statuses
>> the selected critter/weed. For example, the user might get a page that
>> "If you follow the ITIS interpretation of this species, the map looks like
>> this. If you follow the WoRMS interpretation of the name, the map looks
>> And, indeed, Step 1 wouldn't exist in the majority of cases, because I
>> suspect most people will get to the Map service by clicking on a link from
>> some web page article or database system. In most cases, this link would
>> also bypass Step 2 as well.
>> In other words, if we can continue to develop GNA the way we're already
>> developing it, we should be able to get the the point (Soon!) where a user
>> clicks a link on a web page, and immediately gets a single map
>> using the taxon concpet adopted by the overwhelming majority of
>> Meta-Authorities, or (at worst) gets more than one map based on more-than
>> one contemporary/contentious views of what the species concept should be
>> (with links to more information, if the user wants the details).
>> So, if we keep building GNA, we should have exactly the service that Pete
>> says he'd like to have (i.e., a single map with the full distribution of
>> species, regardless of what text-string name is used to lable the georef'd
>> occurrence data-points).
>> Simple, really....
>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: David Remsen (GBIF) [mailto:dremsen at gbif.org]
>>> Sent: Saturday, June 12, 2010 10:50 AM
>>> To: Peter DeVries
>>> Cc: David Remsen (GBIF); Richard Pyle;
>>> tdwg-content at lists.tdwg.org; Kevin Richards; Jerry Cooper
>>> Subject: Re: [tdwg-content] Name is species concept thinking
>>> Pete -
>>> This statement has been sticking with me since I read it. It might
>>> be me but I don't see any relationship between that statement
>>> and how
>>> this relates to taxon concepts. In a concept-based system
>>> you could
>>> easily have two different maps for Puma concolor. Whether Felis
>>> concolor is included is not relevant because nomenclatural
>>> synonyms have no bearing on the circumscription. They are
>>> both names for the same type.
>>> There may be two different concepts (circumscriptions) published for
>>> Aedes triseriatus. It could be quite legit for a different
>>> (objective synonym only) name like Oclerotatus triseriatus to
>>> refer to
>>> that same concept. So in that sense, there is a rationale for
>>> different scientific names to be able to reference the same
>>> concept to
>>> meet that requirement of the example you cite. But in
>>> zoology these
>>> examples aren't even considered different names and the rule
>>> of priority would prevent truly different (heterotypic names)
>>> from referring to the same type so the use cases for
>>> different scientific names being able to refer to a single
>>> concept ID are quite limited.
>>> Mapping objective (homotypic) synonymy provides the basis for
>>> providing a single map for those examples you cite but it's
>>> not using true concept-based principles.
>>>> Frankly I think it would be an improvement if we could get maps etc
>>>> that combine Aedes triseriatus / Ochlerotatus triseriatus
>>> into one map
>>>> and Felis concolor and Puma concolor into a different
>>> single map. :-)
>>>> - Pete
Department of Entomology
University of Wisconsin - Madison
445 Russell Laboratories
1630 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706
GeoSpecies Knowledge Base
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