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

Bob Morris morris.bob at gmail.com
Thu Sep 8 14:46:12 CEST 2011

What exactly is accomplished by requiring "taxonomically homogenous?"
Perhaps the problem is that Organism is a subclass of something
slightly more general, some more general "biologically organized"
object that  has a context dependent organizing principle.  For
example, biologists seem willing to talk about ecosystem instances in
this way. Also, for some purposes, people seem willing to have
discourse about an organism in which they include microbes that must
survive not only on or in the organism, but even a tiny bit away from
it. So, if one had a slightly more general class, and Organism is
required to have some enumerated set of specific kinds of organizing
principles, e.g. those presently on the table,  several things happen:
(a)those who need to have a different organizing principle than the
current consensus of what organizes an Organism have a place to hang
their organizing principle, (b) scientific advances about the
organizing principles of life don't require massive ontological
disruption(*)...you just move a principle into the appropriate

Bob Morris
aka Recovering Algebraist

(*)well, I suppose the important ones do for the biologists, but I
suspect they needn't for the formal ontologies, if the upper level
organizing principle is "organizing principle".

On Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 3:56 AM, Gregor Hagedorn <g.m.hagedorn at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Term Name: Organism
>> Identifier:     http://rs.tdwg.org/dwc/terms/Organism
>> Namespace:      http://rs.tdwg.org/dwc/terms/
>> Label:  Organism
>> Definition:     The category of information pertaining to a specific
>> instance of an organism (virus, symbiont, individual, colony, group of
>> individuals, population) reliably be known to taxonomically
>> homogeneous.
> I see a problem with the "taxonomically homogeneous" since many taxa are not.
> All obligatory mutualistically symbiontic organisms are excluded (you
> mention symbiont, but the symbiont is the part of a symbiontic
> relation, e.g. both the algae taxon and fungus taxon each are a
> symbiont in a lichen.
> Contradict if my German biology is at odds with English.
> The problem is, that individual and set are mixed, so that the
> "homogeneous" appears to apply also to the individual. Proposal:
> Definition:     The information class pertaining to a specific
> instance or set of instances of a life form or organism (virus,
> bacteria, symbiontic life forms, individual, colony, group,
> population). Sets must reliably be known to taxonomically homogeneous
> (including obligatory symbiontic associations).
> Gregor
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Robert A. Morris

Emeritus Professor  of Computer Science
100 Morrissey Blvd
Boston, MA 02125-3390
IT Staff
Filtered Push Project
Department of Organismal and Evolutionary Biology
Harvard University

email: morris.bob at gmail.com
web: http://efg.cs.umb.edu/
web: http://etaxonomy.org/mw/FilteredPush
phone (+1) 857 222 7992 (mobile)

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