More GBIF questions (was: ITIS)

Richard.Zander at MOBOT.ORG Richard.Zander at MOBOT.ORG
Fri Jun 25 12:05:07 CDT 2004

I'm surprised that Rod Page's "definition of a classification is a tree" got
by, or maybe I missed something. Check the dictionary.

It is especially interesting and heartening that the complex exchanges of
this thread do not seem to need to involve this issue, but the solutions
work (however well or poorly) whether a classification is a tree or not.

As long as we distinguish nomenclature from taxonomic opinion, we advance in
this thread. You would think, though, wouldn't you, that there was some
agreed upon level of confidence in taxonomic opinion that databases of
taxonomic opinion could reflect. How might that level of confidence be
gauged? We've complained about situations in which there was a clear lack of
confidence, and seem to be able to identify those readily, but under what
conditions do we mostly agree?

Richard H. Zander
Bryology Group
Missouri Botanical Garden
PO Box 299
St. Louis, MO 63166-0299
richard.zander at <mailto:richard.zander at>
Voice: 314-577-5180
Fax: 314-577-9595
Bryophyte Volumes of Flora of North America:
Res Botanica:
Shipping address for UPS, etc.:
Missouri Botanical Garden
4344 Shaw Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63110

-----Original Message-----
From: Roderic Page [ at BIO.GLA.AC.UK]
Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2004 3:43 AM
Subject: Re: [TAXACOM] More GBIF questions (was: ITIS)

Regarding the problem of authoritative lists of names, clearly our
current lists have errors. These affect not only names, but
classifications. By definition a classification is a tree, but the
animal and plant classifications in ITIS are not trees (which is why
the Glasgow Name Server only displays trees for names from NCBI). In
the case of ITIS these errors are worrying because ITIS data are used
in other databases, such as Species 2000, uBio, the Glasgow Name
Server, and the SEEK project.

I suspect the way forward is to adopt the tools and mindset of the Open
Source software community. Have open databases of names that people can
annotate (i.e., report "bugs"). The bugs themselves can be seen by (and
commented on by) everybody. Hence, the error mentioned by Richard Petit
(the type species of the genus Cancellaria being attributed to Pilsbry,
1940 instead of to Linnaeus, 1767) would be visible for all to see (and
comment on).



Professor Roderic D. M. Page
Editor Elect, Systematic Biology
Graham Kerr Building
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 141 330 4778
Fax: +44 141 330 2792

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