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

Roderic Page r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Fri Jun 20 05:27:02 CDT 2008

One obstacle to points 1 and 2 below is the accessibility of the  
literature. Existing efforts to catalogue names (such as the Catalogue  
of Life) treat literature as a second class citizen. I think the value  
of such efforts would be greatly enhanced if the names were linked to  
literature so that anybody could check the original spelling, etc.

Of course, this depends on having that literature in digital form. But  
it also depends on being able to find that digital version of the  
publication. Journal publishers, archival projects such as JSTOR, and  
institutional repositories are continually increasing the number of  
taxonomic publications that are online (not to mention BHL's  

However, there is a disconnect between how many nomenclatural  
databases treat literature (often referring not to the article, but to  
a specific page in an article) and how digital publishers refer to  
articles (the article itself is the smallest unit).

This means that Anders Silfvergrip's (http://markmail.org/message/27jw6g4owltpd252 
  ) attempt to find out the largest number of names described  in a  
single paper using the Catalogue of Life was doomed from the start.  
Many reference in CoL are to pages within an article, not to the  
enclosing article itself.

Hence, an unintended consequence of how many nomenclatural databases  
handle literature is that linking to the burgeoning digital literature  
is going to be a non trivial exercise.

We don't make things easy for ourselves...



> 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.
> No?
> Cheers,
> Wolfgang
> ------------------------------------------
> Wolfgang Lorenz
> Hoermannstr.4
> 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
> synonym?)
> 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
> (unallocated)
> 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
> (Plantae-Rubiales)
> --------------
> 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
> databases).
> 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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Roderic Page
Professor of Taxonomy
Graham Kerr Building
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

Email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Tel: +44 141 330 4778
Fax: +44 141 330 2792
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