[Taxacom] Definition of Checklist

Thompson, Chris Chris.Thompson at ARS.USDA.GOV
Tue Feb 12 12:58:06 CST 2008


Times never change.

Twenty years ago I answered that question in a short article. See
Thompson, F. C. and L. Knutson 1987. Catalogues, checklists and lists: A
need for some definitions, new words, and ideas. Antenna 11:131-134 

This is available as a pdf document online at

Our bottom line was abandon the terms checklist, catalog, etc. and use
DATABASE. And that is why we call ourselves the BIOSYSTEMATIC DATABASE

Unfortunately our colleagues still cling to the old terms and
conflicting definitions.

Oh, well ...

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., ARS, USDA
c/o Smithsonian Institution MRC-0169
PO Box 37012
Washington, D. C. 20013-7012
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 fax
www.diptera.org Diptera Website
-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of David Remsen
Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2008 11:20 AM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: [Taxacom] Definition of Checklist

Dear Taxacom-ers

Can someone guide me with some terminology issues.  My problem is what  
appears to be a wide range of definitions for the term "checklist"  I  
am working to define a set of metadata elements that describe  
checklists as are provided to GBIF within the ECAT programme and these  
lists appear to have a wide range of contexts.

At the simple end we have flat lists of species that fall within a  
regional or thematic context.  These may or may not have reference to  
a source taxonomic authority.   Some of these lists may group the  
species list within a classification hierarchy such as the IUCN  
redlist does.  Do these fall within a consensus definition of checklist?

A nomenclator may provide a list of taxon names that provide verified  
nomenclatural metadata but there is no assumed taxonomic component.   
Can such a list be referred to as a checklist?  Does it need  
additional qualifiers?

A taxonomic checklist may be a flat list of verified species names.   
It may be organized within a classification.  There may be summarized  
synonymies or fully annotated taxon circumscriptions.  Is there some  
cutoff for what constitutes a checklist and what might be referred to  
by some other term?

Apologies if these are well-worn questions.

Thank you, David
David Remsen, Senior Programme Officer
Electronic Catalog of Names of Known Organisms
Global Biodiversity Information Facility Secretariat
Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
Tel: +45-35321472   Fax: +45-35321480
Skype: dremsen

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