Topic 2: GUIDs for Collections and Specimens

Dave Vieglais vieglais at KU.EDU
Fri Oct 21 11:11:15 CEST 2005

Hi Roderic,
In general, for records retrieved from data sources exposed using the
Darwin Core one should be able to combine InstitutionCode,
CollectionCode and CatalogNumber to provide unique identifiers for those
records.  This is not always the case however, the most common example
of which is probably the presence of records for different preparations
of the same specimen.

  Dave V.

Roderic Page wrote:
> As a consumer of specimen GUIDs, I've found specimens to be frustrating
> to deal with as individual collections don't guarantee uniqueness of
> identifiers (Donald's point 2 below). For example, in the absence of
> specimen GUIDs (such as LSIDs) I'd hoped to use a three part identifier
> based on the DiGIR provider, e.g.
> DiGIR provider URL : resource : specimen code
> Hence,
> \-----------------------------------/ \---------/ \--------/
> provider resource specimen
> identifies specimen FMNH 158106 of Tatera robusta at the Field Museum in
> Chicago. The idea behind this crude hack is that the identifier can be
> resolved (there's enough information in the identifier to retrieve the
> record, see for example
> ).
> To my horror, if I do this for MVZ 148946, I get three specimens back,
> one each for Chaetodipus baileyi baileyi, Calidris mauri, and Rana
> cascadae. This is an instance where the same specimen code is being used
> in three different collections (mammals, birds, and herps). I guess MVZ
> could have avoided this by using a different name for the 'resource'
> field for each collection.
> I offer this as an example of where GUIDs are vital if we are to avoid
> linking to the wrong information, and also where individual providers
> need to ensure that the identifiers they generate are unique.
> Regards
> Rod
> Professor Roderic D. M. Page
> Editor, Systematic Biology
> Graham Kerr Building
> University of Glasgow
> Glasgow G12 8QP
> United Kingdom
> Phone: +44 141 330 4778
> Fax: +44 141 330 2792
> email: at
> web:
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> Biologists Website:
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