[tdwg-tag] TDWG ontology revisited ... a newcomer's perspective

Peter DeVries pete.devries at gmail.com
Fri May 15 01:32:42 CEST 2009

Hi Paul,
What you are proposing is actually different than the ICZN code isn't it?

Aren't people tying those cougars they write about to the type specimen? Not
a collection of specimens?

The issue you are raising about species concepts also pertain to name based

What do they mean when they use *Felis concolor*? Do they mean something
different then *Puma concolor*?

For a large number of species people seem to "mean" the same thing when
using different binomial names.
They are either not aware of the name change or they disagree with the
particular taxonomic hypothesis
bound to a specific binomial name.

There are cases where the species concept itself is wrong and either needs
to be split or combined with
another. I think that these cases are handled more easily with a species
concept identifier than an array
of name-based identifiers.

It appears that  most differences in nomenclature for "good" species are due
to the former issue rather than
the invalidity of the underlying species concept.

The issue of what is a species is still unresolved, but the system I am
proposing allows one to link the
names in literature and data to a common species concept.

It seems clear that *Felis concolor* and *Puma concolor* map to the same
species concept and should be
placed in the box with one label on it. This label would not need to change
when that species is moved
to a different genus.

Under the system you describe you would have to change the label on the box
with every change in
phylogeny, even if the box still contains the same individual members of a


- Pete

On Thu, May 14, 2009 at 5:39 PM, Paul Kirk <p.kirk at cabi.org> wrote:

>  Pete,
> If you had a 'container' called species concept what would you put in it so
> that computers, let alone other people, knew what you meant?
> In the real world we have collections of real (individual or groups of)
> organisms which we put in a container and label the container with a name
> for that species. Others can look in this container, examine the real
> objects and either agree that all the object belong to a single species
> concept or split the objects into two or more groups and assign different
> names to the new species concepts. The reverse can occur where two
> containers are merged and then the Codes give guidance of which of the two
> names is the correct one.
> Creating identifiers for the species concepts solves nothing if we do not
> know how a concept is defined.
> Paul
> ------------------------------
> *From:* tdwg-tag-bounces at lists.tdwg.org on behalf of Peter DeVries
> *Sent:* Thu 14/05/2009 23:00
> *To:* Kevin Richards
> *Cc:* tdwg-tag at lists.tdwg.org; lynette.woodburn at csiro.au
> *Subject:* Re: [tdwg-tag] TDWG ontology revisited ... a newcomer's
> perspective
>  I think that the effort to organize information about species has been
> moving so slowly in part because of it's focus on names. Our goal is to
> organize information about species, names are just the handle that we use to
> tag a species.
> The efforts would go much more quickly if we create identifiers for species
> concepts and then point the various names to that identifier.
> I did a check via Google Scholar for papers published this year that
> mention the *Puma concolor*, and *Felis concolor.*
> *
> *
> Both of these names for the same species are still being used.
> It would make sense to mint global URI for that species concept and then
> tag all papers, images, observations to that species concept.
> As these documents are being processed, more and more information will be
> tied to that identifier.
> Identifiers for "good" species could be created quickly. New observations
> could start to be tagged with that identifier along with whatever name the
> recorder would like to use. e.g. Aedes/Ochlerotatus
> These concepts could be mapped to the GNI data in the following way
>  http://www.taxonconcept.org/spcs/v6n7p  *hasNameID*
> http://globalnames.org/name_strings/3165624
> http://www.taxonconcept.org/spcs/v6n7p  *hasNameID*
> http://globalnames.org/name_strings/505310
> http://www.taxonconcept.org/spcs/v6n7p  *hasNameID*
> http://globalnames.org/name_strings/10330292
> http://www.taxonconcept.org/spcs/v6n7p  *hasNameID*
> http://globalnames.org/name_strings/6689244
> http://www.taxonconcept.org/spcs/v6n7p  *hasNameID*
> http://globalnames.org/name_strings/3169574
> http://www.taxonconcept.org/spcs/v6n7p  *hasNameID*
> http://globalnames.org/name_strings/10568463
> http://www.taxonconcept.org/spcs/v6n7p  *hasNameID*
> http://globalnames.org/name_strings/12104361
> http://www.taxonconcept.org/spcs/v6n7p  *hasNameID*
> http://globalnames.org/name_strings/1758834
> http://www.taxonconcept.org/spcs/v6n7p  *hasNameID*
> http://globalnames.org/name_strings/11818218
> I have not had much success getting this idea accepted in a number of these
> communities.
> So I have a proposal. Let my group start making species concept
> identifiers. If this concept is adopted, I have succeeded in proving my
> point. If this concept fails, then I am wrong. Either way, we should have an
> answer by the end of the decade.
> Respectfully,
> - Pete
> P.S. This is not about changing the system of binomial nomenclature, it is
> about tying data together so we can start to address the world's problems in
> a efficient manner. Binomial nomenclature stays. ;-)
> P Think Green - don't print this email unless you really need to
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Pete DeVries
Department of Entomology
University of Wisconsin - Madison
445 Russell Laboratories
1630 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706
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