[tdwg-content] New terms need resolution: "Individual"

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Thu Jul 14 16:31:06 CEST 2011

Viruses differ in other ways as well (no Linnean-style names, different
fundamental concepts for what a "Taxon" is, many biologists don't even
include them within the scope of "life", etc.)  I'm not sure "Organism" is
any more inconsistent with population than it is with a coral colony or two
members of the same species; but I agree more careful though would be useful

I'm not married to "organism", but I *really* don't like the word "taxon"
embedded in the term.  Taxa are abstract notions, invented by humans.  What
I think we need a term for is an explicit indication of the physical "stuff
of life".

I think that DwC is very, very close to having what we need to represent
almost all of the information we're interested in.  I think one of the main
problems with the existing DwC is that "Occurrence" is overloaded -- too
many disparate things are being force-fit into instances of that class, and
it gets a bit messy.  Most of the other DwC classes are pretty consistently
understood and utilized by the community.  I think this conversation we're
having now (the introduction of a new class) should really focus on how best
to define that class in such a way that it maximally enhances data sharing.
In other words, it should solve a problem, and should enable new features
for information exchange that satisfy a need. Also, as we define it, part of
the definition is figuring out which existing attributes of "Occurrence"
that the new class should inherit.

My own understanding of the core DwC classes (with my own interpretation of
"Occurrence" added) are as follows:

Locality:  A defined place.

Event: The intersection of a Locality and a specific window of time, with
metadata pertaining to some action that happened at that place & time.

Taxon: an *implicit* set of organisms circumscribed by a taxon concept and
labeled with a taxon name

Organism: an *explicit*set of one or more instances of organisms (sensu
lato, including viruses?).

Occurrence: the intersection of an Event and an Organism.

Identification: the intersection of an Organism and a Taxon.

Steve created some very useful diagrams of this sort of thing the last time
we had this conversation (Steve: can you re-post the link to your diagrams?)


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Gregor Hagedorn [mailto:g.m.hagedorn at gmail.com]
> Sent: Thursday, July 14, 2011 11:52 AM
> To: Richard Pyle
> Cc: Steven J. Baskauf; tdwg-content at lists.tdwg.org
> Subject: Re: [tdwg-content] New terms need resolution: "Individual"
> On 14 July 2011 08:41, Richard Pyle <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org> wrote:
> > My turn to disagree (strongly, in this case).  It's not an instance of
> > a taxon, it's an instance of an Organism.  A taxon is merely a
> > non-factual (i.e., opinion-based)  attribute of an organism,
> > secondarily associated via an Identification instance.
> WIth respect to organism: strictly, Viruses are not organisms, but I could
> with that.
> But the goal is to find a term including population. Population definitely
is not
> an organism.
> I believe the instances of taxon are organisms, populations, individuals.
> Gregor

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