[tdwg-content] Darwin Core vernacularName field

Peter Desmet peter.desmet at umontreal.ca
Thu Jul 21 17:59:19 CEST 2011

Hi Geoffrey,

There is (currently) no elegant solution to publish multiple
vernacular names in simple DwC, it is one of the limitations of simple

It is however possible to publish multiple vernacular names (and their
language and some other information) if you use extensions. There is
even a official GBIF Vernacular Name extension:
http://rs.gbif.org/extension/gbif/1.0/vernacularname.xml. This
extension is a text file where every line is a vernacular name, with a
link (via an ID) back to the core file, containing the specimen
information. More information here:

However, this extension was intended for the use of species
checklists, with a TAXON core file. I don't think it has ever been
used to link to an occurrence/specimen core file. I do know that some
herbaria record vernacular names on a specimen level, but that is not
really best practice, since vernacular names are in fact properties of
taxa, and only by relation of specimens: Alpine alumroot and heuchère
glabre are vernacular names for Heuchera glabra, and thus of every
living or preserved specimen of that species

If you want to see an example of a checklist Darwin Core file using a
vernacular name extension, we created one for all the vascular plants
in Canada (might be useful for your herbarium):
You can also search and create your own Darwin Core files for Canadian
plants using our checklist builder:

Hope this helps,


On Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 11:23, Geoffrey Allen <gsallen at unb.ca> wrote:
> Greeting,
> I have recently begun the process of digitising the 60,000 specimen vouchers
> from the UNB herbarium. The textual data for 40,000+ of those has already
> been entered into a database, and I am now trying to map those values to DwC
> so that we may share the data with other collections.
> I have some concern over the fact that simple DwC does not allow the
> repetition or extension of certain fields. The vernacularName field is a
> particular problem. New Brunswick is Canada's only officially bilingual
> province, as such, our specimens are all identified with both their English
> and French common names in the database. It would be very useful if we could
> extend DwC, creating something along the lines of <vernacularName lang=en>,
> or allow nesting of elements, perhaps in the form:
> <vernacularName>
> <English>Chives</English>
> <French>Ciboulette, brulotte</French>
> </vernacularName>
> The other option, as I see it, is that we store the English and French
> common names in our own fields, and then concatenate the two to create the
> DwC:vernacularName field. I see this option as less than ideal since it may
> hinder search/browsability. It may also cause a host of other problems from
> interpreting to storing the data. The herbarium with whom we first intent to
> share the data has already expressed a concern that their system cannot
> handle the diacritics found in many of the French names (!). They would like
> the Eng. common names, but not the French. This is more difficult to achieve
> if we concat the values.
> One additional thought is that the herbarium's imprint, _Flora of New
> Brunswick_, also includes common names in Maliseet and Mi'kmaq wherever
> possible. Although these two aboriginal languages do not currently exist in
> the dataset we are using, there is the potential that they may be added at
> some point in the future.
> It seems to me that the repetition of fields may be necessary in other
> instances too. I am having some difficulty figuring out how to record all
> the location data we have for the specimens, which are indicated using
> verbal descriptions, Lat/Long, UTM, and NTS coordinates - in many cases
> using all 4 for a single sample, but I will save the details for another
> posting.
> I will watch for the group's thoughts on this problem.
> Many thanks,
> Geoffrey
> --------------------------------------------
> Geoffrey Allen
> Digital Projects Librarian
> Electronic Text Centre
> Harriet Irving Library
> University of New Brunswick
> Fredericton, NB  E3B 5H5
> Tel: (506) 447-3250
> Fax: (506) 453-4595
> gsallen at unb.ca
> _______________________________________________
> tdwg-content mailing list
> tdwg-content at lists.tdwg.org
> http://lists.tdwg.org/mailman/listinfo/tdwg-content

Peter Desmet
Biodiversity Informatics Manager
Canadensys - www.canadensys.net

Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre
4101 rue Sherbrooke est
Montreal, QC, H1X2B2

Phone: 514-343-6111 #82354
Fax: 514-343-2288
Email: peter.desmet at umontreal.ca / peter.desmet.cubc at gmail.com
Skype: anderhalv
Public profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/peterdesmet

More information about the tdwg-content mailing list