standards across taxa

Gail E. Kampmeier gkamp at UIUC.EDU
Mon Oct 18 09:32:29 CDT 1999

>Do you know about the Taxonomic Database Working Group (
>They do a lot of *stuff* with taxonomic standards and may be able to
>answer some of your questions.
>Susan Farmer
>sfarmer at
>Botany Department, University of Tennessee

Actually, this query came out of that group.  Because TDWG's traditional
strength is in botany and they are trying to branch out to other taxa, when
we met last year, the "zoologists" were trying to find out where we needed
to be to catch up with the botanists and see whether we have things (like
the codens for collections) that they would find useful.

I know the botanists have an authority file for people (saw it demonstrated
at TDWG last year), which I think is a great idea.  I don't think one
exists for entomology, aside from 2 very expensive books that are excellent
for what they do, even giving samples of handwriting for some famous
taxonomists, but I know that it is no where near complete for collectors,

For example, you may have a name that appears as "Smith" in some places,
"C. Smith" in others, "C. W. Smith" in yet others or "Cecil Smith" in
others.  These could all be the same person or 4 different ones.  In my
database, they appear as 4 separate "people" unless we know for sure that
they are all the same.  However, if you want to pull together all the
things that a person has done (how many specimens has s/he determined,
authored, illustrated, written about, etc.), it would be confusing.
Activity dates would be helpful, knowing where someone worked/collected
could also be important.  Do such files exist outside of botany and even in
botany, are the records complete only for certain groups?

TDWG has a biogeographic standard, but parts of it were challenged by
members of a political entity who didn't want their country "split" into
more than one region.  From my point of view, political boundaries are
pretty arbitrary where evolutionary trends are trying to be distinguished
based on the movement of land masses.  I know that discussions have gone on
in TAXACOM about biogeography and its use as a tool in systematics...I
would rather not get into those discussions here but ask whether various
groups have standards that they follow for dividing the earth into
biogeographic regions.  What about the marine biologists?

Hope this clarifies some of what I'm asking.

Gail E. Kampmeier, Research Entomologist, Illinois Natural History Survey,
Box 5 NSRL-EASB, MC-637, 1101 W. Peabody, Urbana, IL 61801 USA
ph. 217-333-2824; fax 217-333-6784; email: gkamp at

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