A zoologist asks: botanical names practice

Meredith Lane mlane at GBIF.ORG
Thu Jun 17 14:59:21 CDT 2004

Dear  Taxacom-ers,

Yesterday I sent what was probably an over-hasty reply to Barry Roth's
question, suggesting that GBIF is the place to go to get citations and
dates for names.  GBIF is in its nascent stages of development and is
only beginning its work toward the goal of making that statement a
reality. Only a percentage of all scientific names are currently
available, though this number will continue to grow as datasets now in
the pipeline (and that will be developed in the future) are uploaded.
The name links are not (currently) attached to sources of the original
descriptions, but rather to citations from  some authoritative source
(GBIF's 20 name-data providers currently serve this information in
several different ways).

If you enter an animal name in the GBIF search fields (try /Puma/, for
example), the list of names returned to you will include the author and
the date of publication, in the form  */Puma concolor/ (Linnaeus,
1771)*. However, if you enter a plant name (try /Quercus/, for example),
the return list will have the form  */Quercus alba /L. *and there will
be no date, yet the names are coming from authoritative sources (the
Catalog of Life partnership, comprising Species 2000 and ITIS).  These
formulae are following established practice in zoology and botany,

As GBIF's data content grows, and as its information science/technology
developments overcome various obstacles that result from the complexity
of biological data and information (not to mention the complexity of
nature itself) as well as the variation of connectivity and computer
capacity among data providers, certain frustrations that may be
encountered at the present time when using the GBIF portal will
gradually be alleviated.  Watch our progress at the Communications
Portal www.gbif.org <http://www.gbif.org/>, and search for data on the
Data Portal www.gbif.net <http://www.gbif.net>.

GBIF welcomes suggestions for and assistance with improvement.
Meredith A. Lane, PhD
PR & Scientific Liaison
GBIF Secretariat
Global Biodiversity Information Facility
mlane at gbif.org
www.gbif.org <http://www.gbif.org>

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