[tdwg-content] Occurrences, Organisms, and CollectionObjects: a review

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Thu Sep 8 14:15:34 CEST 2011

> DwC simply uses classes to
> categorize things and to suggest the types of terms that one might use to
> describe instances of those classes, but otherwise stays out of our
> data management lives.

Yes, I agree with you on that -- but it may get confusing trying to share
data when some providers brand their "things" as instances of
CollectionObjects, and some brand them as instances of Organism.  Maybe some
"best practices" guidelines could help.  Or, maybe I'm worried about
something that may not end up representing a real problem.  I guess time
will tell.

> > In my mind, this should always be "Organism".  
> >
> Totally.  Is this the first time I've agreed with everything Rich has
said?  :-)

If so, then the credit is all yours. Your very thoughtfully-worded posts
during this long debate (all of which I have read, and forced myself to
understand) have re-shaped my own view of how this information ought to be
represented.  A major breakthrough for me was the realization that
"Organism" and "CollectionObject" were not necessarily the same things
(again, thanks to you for allowing me to get my head around that). Once I
got there, the other stuff (e.g., organisms as homogeneous taxa) all sort of
fell into place.

This has been a long, but (I think) very productive discussion.  My only
hope is that it will actually work, and be practical, in the real world of
biodiversity information exchange.

I'm also wondering if we necessarily need to "break" the traditional view of
the "Occurrence" class in order to implement Organism and CollectionObject.
As long as we keep in mind that DwC is a vocabulary of terms focused on
representing an exchange standard (rather than a full-blown Ontology),
perhaps Occurrence records can continue to be represented in the traditional
way as "flat" content, but the Organism and CollectionObject classes allow
us to present data in a somewhat more "normalized" way in those
circumstances that call for it (e.g. tracking individuals or groups over
time [Organism], or managing fossil rocks with multiple taxa
[CollectionObject] -- to name just two).


More information about the tdwg-content mailing list