Jim Beach beach at HUH.HARVARD.EDU
Wed Mar 23 19:10:23 CST 1994

> James Bennet asks:
>         I used to standardize my plants names to NLSPN, then to the USDA's
> PLANTS database (still current I believe), but just in the past few months
> there are now the Flora of NOrth America and the Kartesz checklist (Timber
> press).

> Which do I use now? Any advice?

Jim -

I would use the best reference I could get in electronic form as a taxonomic
dictionary (authority file) in order to support the people who are trying to
support you and other projects with open access to a verified name/taxon

Personally, I do not think it is particulary critical which source you use
from a scientific perspective as long as you are consistent, then the names
(and hopefully the taxa) could be mapped to competing classifications and
taxonomies if anyone desired to do that.  It seems like the antithesis of
systematics research to enforce a single 'consensus' classification on the
community of users because of a limitation of a database design.

Some computing systems now support multiple classification hierarchies in
order to accomodate queries on concepts in a database which have come from
different authorities.

UC Berkeley's SMASCH system does that (Tom Duncan:
tdunc at ucjeps.berkeley.edu), the NIH-NLM-NCBI is working on such an approach
(Scott Federhen: federhen at ncbi.nlm.nih.gov).  There is also a project at
Michigan State University that is prototyping the implementation of this
kind of data model for systematics (John Beaman: beaman at msu.edu).



James H. Beach                                         beach at huh.harvard.edu
Data Administrator                                     Tel:   (617) 495-1912
MCZ, Herbaria, Arnold Arboretum                        Fax:   (617) 495-9484
22 Divinity Avenue
Harvard University                                     Lat:   42 22' 43.8" N
Cambridge, MA 02138, USA                               Long:  71 06' 54.0" W

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