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

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Fri Sep 9 00:18:43 CEST 2011

I agree with Paul that the new proposed DwC class expands the scope of "CollectionObject" from what it has traditionally been.  I'm just not sure any of the alternative terms are any better.  Basically, we're talking about elevating "collectionObject" to a superclass of what it used to be. Everything ypou list below falls within scope of my understanding of the new (sensu lato) definition of "collectionObject".  Now, one could argue that we keep "collectionObject" for the traditional (sensu stricto) meaning and come up with another term for the superclass.  But I can't think of another term that would adequately represent the superclass, and "preservedSpecimen" works well for the subclass (=traditional "collectionObject").  I originally liked "voucher" because I use the term "virtual voucher" for photographic/videographic evidence of organisms.  But I agree with Steve's comment that "voucher" probably has an even more explicit implication of "preservedSpecimen" than "collectionObject" does.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: tdwg-content-bounces at lists.tdwg.org [mailto:tdwg-content-
> bounces at lists.tdwg.org] On Behalf Of Paul J. Morris
> Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2011 5:22 AM
> To: tdwg-content at lists.tdwg.org
> Subject: Re: [tdwg-content] Occurrences, Organisms, and CollectionObjects:
> a review
> The definition of collection object has been bothering me, and I'll use Steve's
> comment below as a jumping off point.
> On Thu, 8 Sep 2011 06:02:49 -0500
> Steve Baskauf <steve.baskauf at vanderbilt.edu> wrote:
> >  Being derived from an Organism is the minimal requirement for a
> > collection object.
> This is dramatically different from the long history of use of the term
> collection object (since at least the ASC model), as being a physical thing in a
> natural science collection, where any of the following can be collection
> objects cataloged in a collection:
> A single herbarium sheet with two pressed plants of different species
> collected in two different collecting events at two different localities.
> A cast of a fossil bone.
> A model of a hypothetical soft part reconstruction of an extinct organism.
> A herbarium sheet bearing a drawing of a plant.
> A bulk sample of sediment and fossils with collecting event and locality data.
> A slab of rock containing many fossils of different taxa.
> A vial of insects in ethanol collected in a trap.
> A herbarium packet containing a rock, two lichens, and a moss.
> A mouse, comprised of skull, skeleton, skin, and tissue sample preparations.
> A mouse, comprised of a set of related collection objects: skull, skeleton,
> skin, and tissue sample, each with its own catalog number (perhaps with the
> tissue sample in a different collection using a number in a different catalog
> number series).
> In many instances in many collections there is not a one to one relationship
> between a collection object and an organism.   In lot based collections,
> collection objects are often sets of individual organisms.  In some disciplines,
> collection objects are often aggregates of many different individuals
> belonging to multiple different taxa.  Collection objects are often heirarchies
> of derived objects derived through various preparation techniques (the bulk
> sample that has been partly picked with macrofossils sorted into lots by
> higher taxon, with some of these lots sorted and identified down to the
> species level, with some parts of some specimens mounted on SEM stubs; or
> the mouse prepared into multiple preparation types).
> A short definition of a collection object might be: "a thing that can be sent on
> loan from a collection".
> -Paul
> --
> Paul J. Morris
> Biodiversity Informatics Manager
> Harvard University Herbaria/Museum of Comparative Zoölogy
> mole at morris.net  AA3SD  PGP public key available
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