Kartesz Checklist

Hugh Wilson wilson at BIO.TAMU.EDU
Wed May 6 09:27:08 CDT 1998

Given constant input of new data and differences of taxonomic
opinion regarding extant data, I don't think a global classification
'standard' is a realistic goal.  On the other hand, if biodiversity
data are to be presented within a taxonomic context, then this
presentation must be framed within a single 'authority'
classification structure.  That, at least, is the traditional
perspective which is based on a  'hardcopy' mentality.

Movement into the digital realm does, however, provide the
*potential* to view biodiversity data from differing taxonomic
perspectives. Work toward  realizing this potential requires a
structured foundation in terms of a 'base' nomenclatural array and,
as indicated earlier, I think that the data set developed by John
Kartesz is the *only* foundation available for the North American
flora.  The taxonomic decisions embedded within this structure -
accepted names - represents only one structural element of the data
array, although it seems to be an item of difficulty or controversy
for those fixated on the dynamics of  taxonomic authority.   The
other structural element, names linked to the accepted name as
synonyms, provides an essential digital 'hook' that will eventually
be employed to produce data systems that provide 'multi-perspective'

A rough (developmental prototype) example of this can be examined at
the full text index node of the CalFlora Database system at:


A query to the indexed file using 'poa' produces three pages - 44
taxa that include the string 'poa' in associated text.  If the
browser (Edit, find in page) is used to search the 1st page for
'secunda', it locates P. ampla Merr. which, I assume, is one of the
segregates mentioned below that, from the perspective of those
building this database, is treated as specifically distinct.
Linkage of this taxon to P. secunda is accomplished by a
machine-generated reference to the BONAP data set during output of
the text file that is queried by this system and, while the BONAP
treatment is evident in the text, the CalFlora treatment is
expressed by the base structure of the data.

On  6 May 98 at 1:57, Adolf Ceska <aceska at VICTORIA.TC.CA> wrote:

In some instances botanists from western parts of North America
have a hard time to accept taxonomic decisions of botanists in
eastern North America.

Vaccinium alaskense was put in synonymy of Vaccinium ovalifolium by Dr.
Sam van der Kloet, although there are many characters that distinguish
those two taxa. You can tell them apart with your eyes closed (V.
ovalifolium has tasty fruit and V. alaskense is tasteless, or even tarty).

Apomictic species are difficult to handle and you always find many
different views. (I enjoyed reading Dr. Ornduff's review in the recent
issue of Systematic Botany that dealt with this problem.) I think that the
treatment of Poa secunda in Kartesz is extremely broad. Even Dr. Kellogg,
who suggested this treatment, wrote (Journal of Range Management 38[1985]:
521):  "It may still be useful for range managers [& plant ecologists as
well - AC] to have a name for some of the groups formerly called species."

These are two cases when I would not follow Kartesz as a "standard."
But this is a small fraction among two or three thousand species that grow
in my area of interest.


Adolf Ceska
Adolf Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C., Canada V8W 3S2
e-mail: aceska at victoria.tc.ca
Phone: 250-356-7855 (work), 250-477-1211 (home)
Fax: 250-387-2733 (work)

Hugh D. Wilson
Texas A&M University - Biology
h-wilson at tamu.edu (409-845-3354)

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