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

Gregor Hagedorn g.m.hagedorn at gmail.com
Thu Sep 8 17:02:59 CEST 2011

Rich wrote:
> I don't understand the problem.  Isn't this simply two instances of
> "Organism" (one symbiont and one host)?
> Together, they may comprise a single collectionObject (e.g., specimen); but
> I see no trouble treating obligatory mutualistic symbionts and their host(s)
> as distinct instances of "Organism".

a) I think it is not that simple. The combination of fungus and algae
is given its own taxonomic name, the lichen name. A lichen taxon
always identifies at least two organisms.

b) I think we very often use the main, dominant organism when
recording mutualistic symbiosis. Most trees and many other plants die
without their mycorrhiza. No group of oaks is taxonomically
homogeneous - it is always a mixture of plant and fungus. We normally
just know, but don't record this. I would like to be able to keep it
that way.  You can say definitions don't matter, I prefer to
explicitly state the flexibility inside the def.

Even humans depend on a wide spectrum of, e.g., gut bacteria. Without
them, we would normally die (I believe, not being a medical person).

That should not mean, that we should not record a symbiosis as two
records where appropriate, just that there are good reasons not to
force people to do it, because it would be at the expense of what they
really want to achieve.

I would prefer a bit more flexible definition, but am not starting a
bar brawl :-)


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