[tdwg-content] Proposed changes to Darwin Core

joel sachs jsachs at csee.umbc.edu
Tue Jul 22 22:16:32 CEST 2014

Hi Everyone,

I’d like to direct everyone’s attention to issues 204 - 226 in the Darwin 
Core issue tracker [1]. These issues describe proposed changes to the 
Darwin Core standard, and were entered back in January in follow up to the 
Documenting Darwin Core workshop held at TDWG 2013. These proposals 
reflect what the organizers of that workshop believe to be the consensus 
that was reached during the workshop’s four sessions in Florence.

The background for this is that, for some time, a number of TDWGers have 
been working towards an applicability statement to provide guidance on 
expressing Darwin Core data using RDF. In the course of this work, it 
became apparent that the semantics of Darwin Core itself needed a slight 
re-think, in order to be usable on the semantic web. The goal was to be 
backward-compatible, i.e. to introduce and re-define terms in a way that 
does not affect the meaning of existing Darwin Core spreadsheet data, but 
which provides the semantic grounding necessary for meaningful RDF. I 
think this goal has, for the most part, been realized. If you have 
examples to the contrary, please share them.

Steve Baskauf provides a good overview of the proposals in Issue 204. Of 
all of them, only Issue 205 (the introduction of a class to represent the 
taxonomically homogenous units that are described in Darwin Core 
occurrence data) was contentious, primarily because we disagreed on a good 
name for the class. (“We” refers to the ad-hoc group that worked on 
translating the notes from the workshop into concrete proposals - John 
Wieczorek, James Macklin, Markus Döring, Rich Pyle, Tim Robertson, Bob 
Morris, Hilmar Lapp, Steve Baskauf, Gregor Hagedorn, and myself.) I’ve 
mentioned my own concerns as a comment on that issue.

There is one proposal that had the support of the group, but that is not 
yet entered into the Issue Tracker - the deprecation of dwc:basisOfRecord. 
The motivation for this proposal is that dwc:basisOfRecord is widely 
misunderstood and inconsistently used, coupled with the fact that GBIF 
currently uses basisOfRecord with the semantics of the (to be proposed) 
dwc:hasEvidence term. However, we have held back on proposing 
"hasEvidence", as there remain some unresolved issues regarding how it would be used. This 
will likely be left as future work, perhaps to be tackled at TDWG 2014.

Many thanks to all who participated in the workshop, and to all who take 
the time to review its outcomes.


1. https://code.google.com/p/darwincore/issues/list ["ID" -> "Sort Down" 
to see in order]

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