[tdwg-content] What is an Occurrence? [what about the "token"] [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Greg Whitbread ghw at anbg.gov.au
Mon Oct 18 09:17:39 CEST 2010


After asking, very nicely, for more than twenty years, that botanists do
their best to anchor determinations to published taxonomic fact; and
providing, at much expense, applications to make this easy to do through
lookups in the Australian Plant Name Index and the Australian Plant
Census I have come to the conclusion that it is probably not achievable
using this route. 

In some ways I no longer think that this even matters very much. If we
can achieve robust standards for semantic interoperability between *all*
of the parts of our domain it should eventually be possible to infer
such causal relationships through the evidence of taxa, names,
annotations, specimens, locality, agents and the like - in much the same
ways that people do. The work of the APNI and APC teams in documenting
concepts and the linked data experiments of Rod Page, Pete de Vries and
others provides hope that somewhere someone will be battling against all
odds to make this possible.  One certain thing is that we still have to
deal with the hundreds of millions of specimens out there that are
simply tagged with names.

The route to acceptance of the need for semantic integration of these
data may come, as Nico suggests, through the publication of born
interoperable content. Names, taxa, individuals ( or their parts ) and
their interrelationships published in such a way that reuse is trivial -
using simple tools to hide perceived complexity within familiar semantic
frameworks and well known forms.  Value adding by reference as simple as
drag-and-drop. Point and click for detail. A complete taxonomic object
no bigger than a URI looking for all the world like a simple taxon name.


On Mon, 2010-10-18 at 10:10, Nico Franz wrote:
>   Dear all:
>     Interesting discussion. I meant to inject that, based on some 
> version of a "causal theory of reference", it is not relevant at all 
> that a contemporary identifier (a person) has actually read or is aware 
> of an original description, for him or her to still be causally linked 
> to that initial event of baptism through a chain of verbal and written 
> communication, and thus in essence have knowledge of what species X's 
> name according to authors Y and Z "means". Apologies for the convoluted 
> phrase.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causal_theory_of_reference
>     For downstream semantic resolution, imperfect but presumably 
> congruent passing on of an original concept is relevant, as is the 
> flagging of multiple causal chains of reference originating from two or 
> more non-congruent concepts. I think that this might be the next state 
> for semantic annotation in taxonomy (and yes, only real believers will 
> do it at first), beyond the kinds of things already promoted and made 
> reality mainly in ZooKeys; i.e. new revisions that come out and make 
> clear distinctions between identifications, names, concepts, and their 
> relationships to previous works.
> Respectfully (I like that!),
> Nico
> Nico M. Franz, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Director, UPRM Invertebrate Collection
> Department of Biology
> University of Puerto Rico
> Call Box 9000
> Mayagüez, PR 00681-9000
> Phone: (787) 832-4040, ext. 3005
> Fax: (787) 834-3673
> E-mail: nico.franz at upr.edu
> Laboratory website: http://academic.uprm.edu/~franz/
> UPRM-INVCOL: http://uprm-invcol-project.tumblr.com/
> On 10/17/2010 10:40 AM, Richard Pyle wrote:
> >> Various TDWG'ers continue to argue that the original description
> >> and subsequent revisions were really important in determining
> >> what these individuals actually meant when they assigned a name
> >> to a specimen, and that this is how we should model it in
> >> excruciating detail.
> > Most of the "TDWG'ers" that I know are FULLY aware that many "modern" taxon
> > concepts are not congruent to the concepts as originally cirumscribed when a
> > Code-compliant name was first established.  Obviously, the more recent the
> > original description, the more congruent the original taxon concept will be
> > to a "modern" concept.
> >
> > The reason why it's important to be cognizant of original descriptions of
> > names is to ensrue that when one applies a taxon name to a modern concept,
> > the modern concept includes within its circumscription the type specimen for
> > the name that is used.  The original description is relevant primarily for
> > nomenclatural purposes, and to ensure that a modern taxon concept does not
> > exclude the type specimen for the name being applied to the modern concept.
> >
> > Subsequent revisions *are* important to modern concepts, because those are
> > the places where real taxon concept definitions (e.g., the sort that are
> > used when people construct keys) are documented.
> >
> >> For example, how many of the species observed in the recent
> >> BioBlitz were identified by referring to the original
> >> species description or subsequent revisions?
> > Probably none.  More likely they were identified to field guides, and the
> > field guides more than likely base their concept boundaries (=implied
> > synonimies) on a (relatively) recent taxonomic work.
> >
> > Aloha,
> > Rich
> >
> >
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> >
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