[Taxacom] nematode encounters: need for ID resources? And ITIS, GBIF et al.

David Remsen dremsen at gbif.org
Fri May 25 14:48:20 CDT 2007

Dear Karen,

Authoritative taxonomic information is of high value to GBIF for at least
two reasons.

Firstly,  GBIF seeks to facilitate access to authoritative taxonomic
information as a service to the global community of biodiversity data
consumers.  GBIF is a conduit through which resources can be marshalled
and a focal point for them to be discovered.  Providing taxonomic
information through this network increases its visibility and enables its
discovery and access.

Second, taxonomic checklists are a critical infrastructural component of
the network itself.  We rely on access to authoritative taxonomic
checklists to provide credible taxonomic context to the specimen and
occurrence records that move through our network.  The best way for us to
collate and intelligently present Nematode information through the GBIF
network is through cross-referencing our specimen and occurrence
information through an up-to-date checklist such as you are developing.  
This is multiplied through the full taxonomic spectrum.  The Catalogue of
Life currently underpins much of this capability and, for all the
criticisms levelled against it, I can assure you we would have a much less
effective service than we currently can offer without it.  Yes, there is
room for improvement.  I hope we can continue to refine the development of
a more effective and responsive infrastructure to enable quick resolution
to the problems you and Mary have illustrated.   It comes from engaging
people like you.  The IT component is merely the plumbing and wiring.  
The payoff for participation however, isn't just increased visibility.  It
is better access to primary biodiversity data through the context of the
checklist itself, extended to access an increasing array of specimens,
literature, molecular data, images and other content you may want to
access yourself.    I hope that this lends some support for the need for a
revised taxonomy.

Very best wishes,
David Remsen

> Today, I looked up free-living nematodes on GBIF and ITIS. I wish the
> problems with our group (rhabditids) were on the level of subspecies
> vs. species, like those Mary Barkworth reported for grasses. It is
> instead the biggest mess. Clearly, something needs to be done about
> that, and we will.  However to improve our leverage it would be good
> if we could demonstrate the need for a revised taxonomy and for
> identification tools. Thus, I am posting a inquiry by David Fitch
> below.
> Any input is highly appreciated!
> Karin Kiontke
> New York University
> To those of you who have conducted biodiversity surveys or ecological
> studies, particularly in terrestrial biomes:
>      Could you please let me know if you have encountered nematodes
> (esp. rhabditids) that you could not (easily) identify, but which may
> have been an important part of the ecological community you were
> studying.  Would your study have benefitted by the availability of a
> good, online, interactive key and database for rhabditid nematodes?
>      (Rhabditids are tiny (0.5-4mm) roundworms that are commonly found
> in many types of terrestrial (esp. saprobic) environments and often
> associated phoretically or otherwise with other animals.)
>      From our phylogenetic work, it is clear that there is a need for
> the classification system of these nematodes to be completely
> revised, but we would also like to get a general sense of the need/
> demand for resources and tools for identification.  Ideally, we would
> love to hear about specific cases where such resources and tools
> would have been useful.
>      Please send your replies directly to:  david.fitch at nyu.edu
> Many thanks!
> David Fitch
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