[Taxacom] Documenting Determinations - another user perspective

taxacom2 at achapman.org taxacom2 at achapman.org
Mon Jun 19 17:20:55 CDT 2006

Steve Young and Dan Janzen have both raised an important point - the 'How'

I have long been an advocate of the Who, How and When with respect to spatial information, and the same should apply to taxonomic information.

The HISPID and ITF standards both touch a little on the How but perhaps we need to add a How field to the data we exchange - I will try and come up with something for discussion in the next few days.

Dan has certainly raised some important points from the user point of view.  One of the aspects of using the internet (including the exchanging and making of data available) is to reduce the load on taxonomists. 

As stated by Richard Jensen, it is not possible to decide the
"competence of the identifier at the point the identification was made"?  To take it to the extreme (in comparison with car manufacture) was the identification made on Monday morning or Wednesday morning?  Such a ranking of identifiers is a red herring and something that we need to steer clear of.

What we need to come up with is a simple system.  It won't be perfect and no user expects it to be so.  Competent users know that taxonomy is not simple, but they don't need to hire a taxonomic 'lawyer' every time they want to use a name in association with a specimen. They want a simple method of getting a handle on the quality of the identification allowing them to make a decision on the reliability they can place in it.

Quality is a characteristic of the use and it is up to the user to decide if a specimen/observation is of value to the use they want to put it. What we need to do as data suppliers is to supply the user with the information (metadata and caveats) to allow the user to make an informed decision as to whether the data is useable (for their purpose) or not.



>From Young.Steve at epamail.epa.gov on 19 Jun 2006:

> I hesitate to even raise the thought, but someone else has already
> mentioned the dreaded word molecular, so here goes: the time may be
> ripening to plan for documenting when and how the basis for a
> determination was molecular, as in the CO1 DNA barcoding for critters.
> On the plus side, perhaps more molecular determinations will lead to
> more time, interest in,  and opportunities for taxonomists to work on
> all those undescribed taxa (and botched classifications?). And now back
> to hiding/lurking... Cheers,
> Steve Young, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
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