U.S. Federal Government Taxonomy Standard RFC

Bernard Picton bernard.picton.um at NICS.GOV.UK
Wed Sep 2 13:14:14 CDT 1998

It seems to me that the critical point here is:
"Users will thus be able to rely upon this standard reference to determine
the accepted scientific name which then can be used to compare, relate,
exchange and/or integrate biological data that may use different scientific
or common names for the same species."

The implication is that non-experts will be able to integrate information on

Without knowing the context in which the name was used a listing will not
solve the problem, as a name has often been used in the literature in many
different ways. Species are lumped and split by different authors so we need
to know the name and some "sensu xx" information as well if records of a
single organism are to be gathered together. We also need to know who made
the identification.

I'm sure this sort of proposal is being worked up many times, standard data
dictionaries have the potential to tie together all information on
individual species in a very powerful manner, especially now that so much
information is available on the web (try typing "cuthona viridis" (complete
with quotes) in alta vista's search engine (at http://altavista.digital.com/)).

Considerable thought has gone into how this matter should be handled in
relation to the National Biodiversity Network proposed for the UK - see:

In particular the NBN model allows for the referral of a specimen or record
by its original identification (name) with a mechanism for translating that
name into current parlance or any other checklist. I'm not certain that this
is entirely what all users need, but it does solve many of the fears raised
in this discussion.

Having been involved in the editing of a marine list for the British Isles
and surrounding waters I'd certainly like to suggest that anyone proposing a
world list should build on pre-existing foundations rather than re-invent
the wheel. (see


At 13:20 25/08/98 -0500, you wrote:
>U.S. Taxacom Readers:
>The U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee is soliciting public comment on
>the taxonomy standard proposed below.

    Bernard E. Picton, Zoology Department
    Ulster Museum, Belfast BT9 5AB, Northern Ireland, UK.
    Phone: Int + 44-1232-383146   UK: 01232 383146
    Fax:   Int + 44-1232-383103   UK: 01232 383103
    E-mail: bernard.picton.um at nics.gov.uk
    Web page: http://www2.tcd.ie/People/Bernard.Picton/

    "The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their right names."
(Chinese proverb)

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