[tdwg-content] ITIS TSNID to uBio NamebankIDs mapping

Peter DeVries pete.devries at gmail.com
Wed Jun 1 00:16:15 CEST 2011

Hi Kevin,

On Tue, May 31, 2011 at 3:27 PM, Kevin Richards <
RichardsK at landcareresearch.co.nz> wrote:

> This is exactly why this problem still exists and will be very complex to
> solve - everyone says "we should have a single ID for a specific taxon name,
> there seems to be several IDs 'out there' that refer to the same taxon name,
> so Im going to create another ID to link them all up" - yet another ID that
> no one will particularly want to follow - you would have to get everyone to
> agree that your combinations/integration of taxon names is the best one and
> hope everyone follows it - unlikely in this domain.

Isn't this kind of what the The Plant List, and eBird already do?

A difference being that they tie these to a specific name and specific

The Plant list is not really even open so it is difficult to people to adopt
it in mass.

For instance, if I manage a herbarium, how do I easily reconcile my species
list with the entities represented in the Plant List?

eBird has millions of records which implies that they have been able to
convince the observers in the field to adopt their system. You are correct
in that there are probably a lot of taxonomists that don't like their list.
It differs from many of the other classifications, but remember the system
rewards them for not agreeing. Note the difference between the microbial
taxonomists and other taxonomists. In the case of the microbial
workers, the system rewards them for solving problems not debating
alternatives. Also, if a good idea comes out that will make it easier for
the microbiologists to solve the problems they are rewarded for solving,
they are less likely to care whose idea it is.

Like the microbiologists, there are lots of biologists that work with
species with the goal of addressing some non-taxonomic problem.

They don't really care if the name is *Aedes triseriatus* or *Ochlerotatus
triseriatus, *but they do care that the identifier that they connect their
data to is stable.

In regards to the issue of market forces,I suspect (but have no knowledge
of) that there were probably decisions made in devising these lists that
have more to do with appeasing certain personalities that creating best
list. With the way this system rewards people it is likely that the
"correct" version will float to the top only after that person has passed
away. I don't have much faith that the best system will always float to the
top, That has a lot to do with the personalities and how the system rewards
are setup. Theoretically, it is possible for one strong personality or group
to force others to adopt their less than optimal solution - at least this
seems to happen in other environments.

Also, there are all sorts of ways that people can use the publication record
to rewrite history. Simply cite the review paper that cites the original
paper. Or don't cite it at all.

I would have used only the ITIS TSN but if the name changes the ID changes.
This isn't "wrong", it just does not solve my problem.

* ITIS also should add the spiders from the World Spider Catalog.

Another issue that I think has inhibited adoption of a common list is that
people can't agree on a particular name or a particular classification.

Since you can model a species concept as having many names and many
classifications why not do so?

If this idea was originally accepted, I would not have needed to create

My plan has aways been to get something that works to solve some problems
and then let some larger group take it over.

In a sense, I am more like the microbiologists in that I am not being paid
to solve this or debate this problem.

I am doing it because I think something like this is needed, and it is an
interesting and personally rewarding puzzle.

- Pete

> My thoughts are that the most likely way this will be solve is by stnadard
> market type pressures - ie the best solution/IDs will be used the most and
> "float" to the top.  It is easy to say that the global taxon name data is a
> mess, but if you think about it 30 years ago taxon name data were very
> disparate, duplicated, unconnected, many with NO IDs at all.  So I beleive
> we are making progress and that we will continue to do so albeit at a fairly
> slow rate.
> Kevin
> "I agree. This was one of the reasons that I setup TaxonConcept the way I
> did. It attempts to connect both the LOD entities and the foreign key based
> entities."
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Pete DeVries
Department of Entomology
University of Wisconsin - Madison
445 Russell Laboratories
1630 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706
Email: pdevries at wisc.edu
TaxonConcept <http://www.taxonconcept.org/>  &
GeoSpecies<http://about.geospecies.org/> Knowledge
A Semantic Web, Linked Open Data <http://linkeddata.org/>  Project
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