[tdwg-content] FW: Name is species concept thinking

Kevin Richards RichardsK at landcareresearch.co.nz
Thu Jun 10 23:45:38 CEST 2010

Forwarded for Jerry, as his email was bounced...

-----Original Message-----
From: Jerry Cooper
Sent: Friday, 11 June 2010 9:43 a.m.
To: Richard Pyle; Kevin Richards; 'Peter DeVries'
Cc: tdwg-content at lists.tdwg.org
Subject: RE: [tdwg-content] Name is species concept thinking

I hesitate to contribute to this debate, but it is useful.
Kevin articulated an issue that has bugged me forever.

I think we do need an  agreed way for identifying a 'set of name/article pointers' that define a useful grouping (which I would hesitate to call a concept). I don't think an open-ended linked data chain does provide that defined grouping.

Pete's point about the two different name/article intersections referring to the same 'concept' is resolved by the fact they are based on the same type, and that issue I prefer to see resolved at the nomenclatural level by protologue & type-collection pointers (as in the GNUB model).

I think it would help if we took a step back from using the term 'taxon concept' and agreed on what we are trying to achieve by linking/grouping the various constructs, and then arrive at a more precisely defined vocabulary for name/article intersections, and the open-ended universe of related stuff.

I suspect we will find that different end-user groups (e.g. hard core nomenclaturalists, nomenclaturally savvy taxonomists, most taxonomists, and the most important group ... non taxonomic savvy end-users of taxonomic services) all have differing and overlapping requirements, and a different understanding of the words being used.

Despite my peripheral involvement in taxon concept space for many years I suspect the above comments reflect a deep seated blinkered view that stops me seeing how it should work given the existing vocabulary!


-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Pyle [mailto:deepreef at bishopmuseum.org]
Sent: Friday, 11 June 2010 9:03 a.m.
To: Kevin Richards; 'Peter DeVries'
Cc: tdwg-content at lists.tdwg.org; Jerry Cooper
Subject: RE: [tdwg-content] Name is species concept thinking

> This is something that has been slightly confused over the years, ie there
seems to be 2 ways of defining a "taxon concept":
> 1. A Taxon Name (nomenclatural data) + Literature Reference - ie Name X as
defined in article Y
> 2. As you have said a grouping of data that define a taxon concept (Name +
Reference + Synonyms + Type Specimen + Protologue, .)

I don't think of these as two different ways of defining a concept.  I see
#1 as a way of *pointing to* a taxon concept definition, and #2 as the
concept definition itself.  Basically, #1 (usage instance) is effectively a
container or an identifier for the taxon concept definition.

However, there is somewhat of a dichotmy in the way that taxon concepts are
defined - one is by included members (i.e., specimens, presumably including
at least one name-bearing type specimen, from which a name-label is
derived), the other is by properties (i.e. characters -- morphologic,
genetic, or otherwise).  In practice, most concept definitions include both.
But I think the "definition" of the concept (i.e., the circumscription
boundaries) is the same for both -- it's just that those boundaries can be
articulated in different ways (i.e., by examplar members, and by purported

> 1 has been covered quite well with the various schemas we have come up
> with over the years, but I think these schemas have failed to capture
> 2 very well (the data fields are there, but the encompassing ID is not),

Agreed -- sort of.  I think the schemas are there, but have not been
organized appropriately (yet).  See below.

> TaxonName ID = N1, FullName = "Aus bus"
> Reference ID = R1, Citation = "Richards, how to define a taxon concept"
> TaxonConcept ID = C1, NameID = N1, ReferenceID = R1
> BUT, the taxon concept C1 does not encompass all related data that defines
that concept (synonyms etc)

No, but it could, through a network of linkages, as I tried to describe in
one of my recent posts.

> To do that we need more Concept Ids and relationships between these
concepts, eg

Exactly!  And we need a schema-based process to capture the relevant
information (diagnoses, etc.), anchored to the Concept Ids.  At a basic
level, Plazi/TaxonX does this.  However, it usually only goes as far as the
text-blob.  To parse the text blob, we need to either look towards SDD (for
character-based concept definition stuff) or DwC/Occurrence (for
specimen-based concept definition stuff).

> ConceptRelationship ID=CR1 ConceptFromID=C2, ConceptToID =C1,
RelationshipType='has preferred name'

Yes, I agree we need this as well!  But again, I see this as a way of
networking pointers to taxon concept defintions, not describing the
definitions themselves.

Man, these conversations really hurt my brain.... :-)


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