[Taxacom] Towards a consensus higher classification of organisms (was: List of Orders of the world), misspellings, etc...

faunaplan at aol.com faunaplan at aol.com
Sun Jun 15 05:50:01 CDT 2008

 Tony Rees asked: "Can we do it better? Undoubtedly. Who should really be doing it? I'm not sure, actually..."

As for zoological names - lions share of those millions of names that are out there - I guess what we have reached so far is nothing more/ nothing less than beta experimental versions. Several of them well done and not without value - as David Remsen said. 
For the next step it's not enough to enable beta versions harvest more and more data from each other. What we need so urgently is active involvement of taxon experts, as many as possible. And maybe we must not forget the "fun"-component in it - as Roderic Page suggested some months ago.

Why not expand those hardly attractive report-error-to-the-webmaster functions by displaying review details received from expert users. I imagine such annotations could enormously increase the credibility of online biodiversity information projects.

1) Source verification: spelling of name, authorship and date have been compared with the original publication. Show name of person(s) who did the check.
2) nomenclatural status assessment: available/ validly published or not, with annotations on details (reasons for unavailability, homonymy, etc.). Name of person(s) who did the check.
3) taxonomic status: valid/ accepted or not, subjective synonymy, hints on alternative classifications (if needed), etc. Name of expert(s) who provided the information.

In this way, experts could take the control and show responsibility for data,  - an important step from more or less anonymous machine work to expert controlled work, IMHO. 



Wolfgang Lorenz
D-82327 Tutzing, Germany



-----Ursprüngliche Mitteilung----- 
Von: Tony.Rees at csiro.au
An: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Verschickt: Sa., 14. Jun. 2008, 9:10
Thema: Re: [Taxacom] Towards a consensus higher classification of organisms (was: List of Orders of the world), misspellings, etc...

Brian Tindall wrote:

> While 
> it is easy to exchange information on the 
> Internet it is problematic to work out what is 
> reliable. A quick search of iSpecies, for example 
> for "Jonesia" gives me reference to a prokaryote 
> name, pictures of flowers and most references 
> listed are to the prokaryote taxon - Jonesia 
> Brady, 1866 is also an ostracod, according to 
> ION. We all know that curating even a 
> nomenclatural data base is expensive and time 
> consuming, and this rises exponentially as the 
> links to other data sets increases.

Inadvertently I am sure, you have hit on precisely one problem for which
IRMNG (and the super-mega-system of which David is dreaming - in the
nicest possible way) is able to address - that of disambiguation of
genus level homonyms, with associated (if sometimes imperfect) higher
taxonomy information, and habitat/extant flags to boot. If you type
exactly that query into IRMNG, i.e. genus = jonesia, as of now you will
get a range of all (or at least) most "Jonesia" options, plus a swag of
near matches for good measure:


Genus name entered: jonesia

(Genus   ...   Family   ...   source   ...  Kingdom-Order    ...   is

Jonesia Brady, 1866 (2)
 Bythocytheridae    SN2000  Animalia-Podocopida
Jonesia M. Bizot, R.B. Pierrot & T. Pocs, 1974 (0)
  Funariaceae   Index Nominum Genericorum   Plantae-Funariales   S

Jonesia Roxburgh, 1795 (12)
  Fabaceae  CoL2006 Plantae-Fabales
Jonesia (1)
  Jonesiaceae   SN2000/Garrity et al., 2001 Bacteria-Bacteria
Genus nearest matches: Jonesea (Animalia-Strophomenida) , Jonesina
(Animalia-Palaeocopida) , Onesia (Animalia-Diptera)
Other genus near matches: Jainesia R.G. Fragoso & R. Ciferri, 1925
(Fungi-Hyphomycetes (unallocated)) , Jamesia C.G.D. Nees in
Wied-Neuwied, 1840 (Plantae-Asterales) , Jamesia J. Torrey & A. Gray,
1840 (Plantae-Rosales) , Jamesia Rafinesque, 1832 (Plantae-Fabales) ,
Jamesia (Animalia-Coleoptera) , Janasia Rafinesque, 1838
(Plantae-Scrophulariales) , Janischia Grunow in Van Heurck, 1883
(Plantae-Bacillariophyceae (unallocated)) , Jansia Penzig, 1899
(Fungi-Phallales) , Janusia A.H.L. Jussieu ex Endlicher, 1840
(Plantae-Polygalales) , Janusia (Animalia-Araneae) , Jensia B.G.
Baldwin, 1999 (Plantae-Asterales) , Joannesia Vellozo, 1798
(Plantae-Euphorbiales) , Joannisia (Animalia-Diptera) , Jonesius
Sankarankutty 1962 (Animalia-Decapoda) , Joosia G.K.W.H. Karsten, 1859


Now some of this may have errors in the higher classification, as we
have established, but probably nothing too mission-critical.

>From the above you can either follow links to the included species as I
have been able to locate them thus far, and search on these (e.g. on
iSpecies or whatever is your taste), or maybe search on your preferred
instance of "Jonesia" *plus* the authority, or the genus *plus* (e.g.)
Kingdom or order), any of which is better than searching on the genus
name alone. Also (omitted from the above for clarity), IRMNG will tell
you that of these, only the first is a marine genus, and that all are
extant but that nos. 1 and 3 also have fossil representatives.

The key point of all the above is that without IRMNG, or something that
does an equivalent job, there is no one place that all of this
information PLUS associated classifications is pulled together. In this
instance, Jonesia #s 1, 3 and 4 do occur in the Catalogue of Life (we
got lucky this time), but without any associated genus authors, while
Jonesia #2 does not. Jonesia #s 2 and 3 occur in Index Nominum
Genericorum, but #s 1 and 4 do not (since they are not within that
list's scope). Jonesia #1 contains 2 species currently in IRMNG, one of
which occurs in the Cataloge of Life and the other does not (it is in
the NW Atlantic Marine Species Register held at VLIZ, of which the
custodians graciously gave me a copy, along with 17 of their other

Of course the situation will be repeated again with the 18 "near match"
Jonesias identified by my TAXAMATCH algorithm, which you might also have
meant if you were not a very good typist.

By interrogating the species level as well, an agency such as OBIS (the
stimulus for the conception behind this work) will also be able to tell
that "Jonesia simplex" is marine (an ostracod), therefore its
distribution data fall within their remit, while "Jonesia confusa" (the
higher plant) is not, from the name alone, by a simple web or machine
level query.

This power (for want of a better word) is what continues to make me
believe in the usefulness of bringing these resources together into a
seamless (real or virtual) collection, for single point of query as well
as compilation of whatever ancillary info might be useful for a
particular requirement. Will the EOL, or GBIF, do this for us in the
future? Possibly, but not today at any rate. Can we do it better?
Undoubtedly. Who should really be doing it? I'm not sure, actually...

Hope this helps give a concrete illustration of where I am coming from,
how far I have currently got, and (probably) also the distance still
left to travel.

Regards - Tony

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