[tdwg-content] How to record "Nativeness"?

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Wed Oct 13 01:07:55 CEST 2010

Thanks, John.  I agree that there will be little value in trying to define
and name distinct units of space and time, but there may be value in
defining units along the taxonomic axis. However, we should first come to a
community consensus on what the maximum scope of each axis is.
My sense is that the maximum scope of space is "Earth" (at least until we
begin documenting populations of extraterrestrial life).
My sense is that the maximum scope of time is effectively "any window of
time during the past 4 billion years or so".
But I don't have a clear sense for what the maximum scope of "one or more
organisms" ought to be.  I'm content with extending it to "populations" as a
unit of "organisms", because I see a smooth transition from two individual
organisms all the way up to a population of organisms.  But should we accept
taxonConcept (which can be thought of as an implied set of populations) as
an extension of "organisms"?  If so, then "Animalia Occurred on Earth
sometime during the past 2 billion years" is a legitimate Occurrence record
(pretty damn useless...but still legitimate).
I think it matters, and is relevant to this exchange -- both because of
Steve's point about more clearly defining what an "Occurrence" can be, and
because we still don't have a good idea of how and where to score
"nativeness" (for which there is clearly an expressed need).
I agree that fitness-for-use should be determined from the content of the
records, but coming back to Donald's (and others') point about filtering
"non-native" records, there needs to be a way to include this information in
the content of the records in order to determine fitness-for-use.  I believe
that a controlled vocabulary for establishmentMeans will probably be all we
have to do to satisy 95% of the user need.  But before we can nail down what
that controlled vocabulary would encompass, I think we need to come to some
sort of consensus on the issues that Steve has articulated.


From: gtuco.btuco at gmail.com [mailto:gtuco.btuco at gmail.com] On Behalf Of John
Sent: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 11:29 AM
To: Richard Pyle
Cc: Steve Baskauf; joel sachs; tdwg-content at lists.tdwg.org;
tdwg-bioblitz at googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: [tdwg-content] How to record "Nativeness"?

Occurrence is admittedly a problematic term. Its current definition is vague
following in the grand tradition of Dublin Core term definitions. Rich's
interpretation echoes what Steve wrote and comes closest in my mind to what
an occurrence really is meant to be, namely "evidence of one or more
organisms occurring at a place and time." This leaves open all of the vast
continuum of scales - geographic, temporal, and taxonomic - at which
occurrences can be described. I'm not sure exactly what is solved by trying
to make named distinctions between different scales or levels of detail (on
any of the three axes) of Occurrence. The core of the issue really boils
down to fitness-for-use of records and a potential user's capacity to
accurately determine that. These should be characteristics that can be
determined from the content of the records.

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