[tdwg-content] New Darwin Core terms proposed relating to material samples

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Mon May 27 08:19:51 CEST 2013

Hi Ramona,

I apologize for the long emails, but this stuff is complex and unfortunately
requires lots of words (to avoid - or at least minimize - misunderstanding).
I will try to keep my responses to your points short.

> Using the word "individual" to describe collections of organisms - 
> whether they are taxonomically homogenous or heterogeneous - makes no
> Yes, I know it is just a label, but seriously, just make a better label.

Yes, I agree.  But it's what we already have in DWC
(http://rs.tdwg.org/dwc/terms/index.htm#individualID)  I have no problem
using a different term, but before we choose terms, we should first define
what the concepts are.

> A single organism and a collection of organisms are fundamentally
different things. 

Actually, not really different things.  Many natural history collections
maintain their specimens as "lots", which may have a single individual
specimen, or multiple specimens.  Regardless of whether it's a single
specimen or multiple specimens, the basic properties are the same (same
collecting event, sme taxonomic identification, and many other identical
properties).  This becomes especially true for colonial organisms (like
corals, where the "individual" could be interpreted as a single polyp). It's
also true for other use cases we deal with that are outside the DWC/TDWG

> If you need a class that can cover both of them under certain
> you need to use a logical definition to define the circumstances (just
like the 
> class material sample does by using the criterion of having a material
sample role). 
> In order to do this, you also need to have separate classes for individual
> and collection of organisms.

We have tried to do this by distinguishing instances as "Lot" or "Whole
Organism" -- which could be thought of as distinct subclasses (though again,
they generally share the same properties).  The same is true for tissue
samples, and other "parts".

> I agree whole-heartedly with the need to clearly track stakeholders needs 
> for different classes of things, using a logical system to decide how
> things relate to one another, examining alternative systems for creating 
> the classes of things, and testing them against use cases (Steve's points
> This is precisely what we are trying to do with the bio-collections
> (BCO). The suggestion to use the term material sample came out of just 
> such a process. It is important to remember that the stakeholders include 
> more than just the community using DwC. 

It seems we are all in full agreement on these points.  In my case, I am
especially in agreement with the last point, as much of our thinking has
been independent of the TDWG/DWC thinking, but still keeping that set of
use-cases in mind.


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