[Taxacom] Definition of Checklist

David Remsen dremsen at gbif.org
Tue Feb 12 13:45:20 CST 2008

This is a wonderful response.  The Chris Thompson paper worked for me so
Doug should give it another try.

Anna,  I really like your list of attributes.  These are exactly the sort
of distinctions we need to think about in coming up with a good metadata
profile for describing checklist data.  With such a breadth of context and
content coverage within similarly structured sets of data it will help
immensely to document the scope and qualities of the resource so you know
just what aspects are reliable.

I like the distinction of a catalogue from a checklist.  All of this is
helping me immensely.  Thank you for this and any other insights.

David Remsen

> Hi Doug,
> I had forgotten about the use of Catalog/Catalogue for similar works.
> I'm not sure I've ever considered that there is a difference between a
> checklist and a catalogue (at least not in practice, or at least not in
> Botany).
> I'd be interested in other thoughts about that as well.
> Cheers,
> Anna
> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Doug Yanega
> Sent: Tuesday, 12 February 2008 1:30 PM
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Definition of Checklist
> Anna Weitzman wrote:
>>7) Some contain synonymy (often partial, focusing on names that have
>>been used within the defined geographic scope).  Synonymy may include
>>vernacular names and may or may not include information about places of
> Isn't this one of the primary features that distinguishes a checklist
> from a catalog? Maybe there's a formal definition somewhere (or not),
> but I'd thought that catalogs were circumscribed name lists that
> included a complete taxonomic/nomenclatural history of the names
> within. At the very least, it occurs to me that it is probably more
> clear-cut as to what is required for something to be a "catalog",
> leaving "checklist" to be defined essentially as NOT being a catalog.
> About the only things I can think of that are *essential* to a
> checklist are that it contains a list of recognizable scientific
> names, and that this list be complete within the taxonomic/geographic
> circumscription given (Anna's features 1 and 2, with 3 and 4 being
> implicit, rather than defining features). So, to my understanding,
> David's "simple end" example ("flat lists of species that fall within
> a regional or thematic context") would generally qualify as
> checklists as long as they are *complete* lists. A work like the
> "Nomina Insecta Nearctica" might qualify as a catalog, albeit as
> crude a catalog as is conceivable, as it gives ONLY synonymies and
> such. The question then is whether a catalog should be defined as
> MORE than just a list of names and their usage history.
> I've never seen a publication that called itself a "nomenclator", so
> to me this is an abstract concept, and I find it hard to imagine how
> one would produce a nomenclator that was NOT also a checklist, unless
> one decided that a checklist - by definition - had a geographical
> circumscription where a nomenclator did not, and that "the world" was
> NOT a geographical circumscription.
> Peace,
> --
> Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research
> Museum
> Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314        skype: dyanega
> phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not
> UCR's)
>               http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
>    "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
>          is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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