Topic 3: GUIDs for Taxon Names and Taxon Concepts

Sally Hinchcliffe S.Hinchcliffe at KEW.ORG
Fri Nov 4 09:14:05 CET 2005

Rich wrote (in response to Yde)

> > For practical reasons I think the starting point for assigning
> > GUIDs should be basically nomenclatural.
> I completely agree -- but again, what gets a "Name" GUID? (as opposed to a
> "usage" GUID or a "concept" GUID)  Only basionyms? (I hope!)  Or also
> different combinations? (I hope not!) Or also spelling variants? (I *really*
> hope not!!)  There is also a problem of how to deal with autonyms
> (=nominotypical names in zoology).  One GUID, or two? Logically, only one --
> but most people don't do it that way.
I agree that name guids are probably a good place to start, partly
because they're one of the areas where the rules have been fairly
thoroughly thrashed out over the past 200 years ... I would argue
(after all the debate that went on in the TCS-LC mailing list) that a
new combination _should_ get a GUID, (after all, as has been said
before, GUIDs are cheap...) because there is a good mechanism in the
LC part of the TCS to resolve from a new combination to the base
name. However if the zoologists don't like to treat new combinations
as names in their own right, I see no problem with them not doing it
... as long as whatever system we come up with will allow both
approaches side by side.

I would also agree with Rod Page that GUIDs don't need to be
centrally administered (which helps with the fact that different
kingdoms have different rules for what constitutes a name).  I admit
I might be a bit biased here, but it seems to me that where there are
nomenclators that are widely used then they should issue the GUIDs
(and even if they don't their ids may well become de facto guids). As
long as everyone agrees that, say, for Fungi, IF ids are the guids
and as long as IF doesn't do anything like change their ids or delete
records, then I can't see  the need for any central repository
replicating what IF does. GUIIDs for names should probably end up
being a combination of something pointing to the nomenclator, and
then the nomenclator's own id. If nomenclators aren't complete or
aren't fully digitised then surely resources would be better spent on
the 20% of effort of making the nomenclator better, rather than the
100% of effort of creating what would be a global nomenclator from
Obviously the zoologists have always had the problem that they don't
have a comprehensive nomenclator but now that they're working on that
with registration - are there any other significant gaps that aren't
covered by a nomenclator of some sort that could be used to issue

Problem solved? ;-)
*** Sally Hinchcliffe
*** Computer section, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
*** tel: +44 (0)20 8332 5708
*** S.Hinchcliffe at

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