Names for BioDiv Informatics

David J at
Tue Feb 1 09:43:34 CST 2005


In regard to prioritizing names-related tasks, priorities need to be
determined in the context of purpose.  An emphasis on code-compliant names
(Rich's top priority) is appropriate but only in some contexts.   We hear
that FishBase gets about 80% of its hits from colloquial names, not
code-compliant names.   Vetting names for code-compliancy is slowing the
process of building up a global compilation of names
(http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nature/journal/v422/n6933/full/422661a_fs.html)
and will deny the emergence of an array of services for very many
years.  There are other and faster routes to names gathering that can
bypass the bottlenecks.  A more extensive compilation of names serves
certain contexts much better than a small subset of all names.  The two
parameters (rate and code-compliancy) are not mutually exclusive.  Both can
be achieved in the same environment by placing the rate-limiting step of
vetting to a later stage in the process.

If we are discussing Biodiversity Informatics, perhaps we should be trying
to categorize the various contexts (services) we hope to provide, then
identify those elements that have informatics value, and agree on which
elements will serve which context best.

In promoting tools to index and organize information across web sites, I
have found that my top priority was to gather generic names, followed by
gathering species names (which can now be enhanced using the genus names to
assist the process), then colloquial names, and then vetting and mapping.

David J Patterson


The Josephine Bay Paul Center in Comparative Molecular Biology and Evolution
Marine Biological Laboratory
7 MBL Street
Woods Hole
Massachusetts 02543

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http://www.mbl.edu/research/resident/lab_baypaul.html
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