[Taxacom] Species Pages - where are the online descriptions?

Peter DeVries pete.devries at gmail.com
Mon Feb 2 15:56:49 CST 2009

Hi Roger,
I thought that this might also be a good opportunity to suggest that we work
out a standard RDF markup
that describes species and family information that exists on web pages.

I was thinking something that tied a page to a specific taxon concept.

For instance, this page


Has information about this species concept


Which is also known by this species concept (your uri)


You would also need the backward link so.

This species concept http://tdwg....

has a web page about it at

If there was some standard markup these could be loaded into a knowledge
base and queried.

I was thinking of doing something like this since I am starting to get too
many pages for species and I don't
want to keep adding additional fields to my species, family, and order
database tables.

It would make more sense to have some common ontology that we could all

I was thinking of modeling these species pages as subclasses of
foaf:Document here are some examples


You can see this in the lastest GeoSpecies Ontology


To avoid problems and recognize subtle difference in species concepts it
might need to have support for more
than one species concept. Most of these pages probably apply to several
variations of what is a species, but
it make some sense to allow the concept authors some discretion as to
whether a page about African Aedes vexans
pertains to a species concept about North American Aedes vexans.

What do you think?

- Pete

On Sun, Feb 1, 2009 at 4:58 AM, Roger Hyam <rogerhyam at mac.com> wrote:

> Hi,
> I am looking for websites that have good "Species Pages". By species
> page I mean (and this is my definition) a page that contains a
> description of the species and not a page that simply lists the
> nomenclature associated with the acceptance of a name. You could send
> the URL of a species page to a student who didn't know what the
> organism was and they could use it to confirm the identity of a
> specimen.
> An example of what I think of as a species page is  the Fishbase page
> for Gadus morhua (Atlantic Cod):
> http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=69
> There is a lot of information on this page and a description of the
> organism can be gleaned from it.
> This FloraBase page is another example:
> http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/26
> Very brief but attempts to define the taxon.
> Wikipedia has a good page for cod but there isn't a good taxon
> description so it is a borderline species page
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gadus_morhua
> Catalogue of Life has a goal of producing a page for every species and
> it aims to do this by combining pre-existing data I believe but I
> wonder where this data is.
> Their page on badger comes from Arkive (http://www.arkive.org/) which
> is an imaging database http://eol.org/pages/328046 and their page on
> cod comes from Fishbase http://eol.org/pages/206692
> Pages I don't consider Species Pages are:
> Catalogue of Life has a page that comes from Fishbase but that chucks
> out the "useful" information and only maintains the nomenclature.
> http://www.catalogueoflife.org/show_species_details.php?record_id=5347829
> The ITIS page is similar to the CoL page
> http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=164712
> Likewise Fauna Europaea page for Meles meles (Badger) lacks a
> description because it is a nomenclatural database.
> http://www.faunaeur.org/full_results.php?id=305312
> I'd like to build a list of sites offering "real" species page
> information - with descriptions. At the moment it seems like the major
> source of these pages are electronic versions of the literature. We
> have good descriptions in sources like eFloras.org
> http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=5&taxon_id=242417133
>  and I hope BHL will be a source. This is a shame as these pages
> typically lack large numbers of images and the possibility of
> including other media.
> I'd be grateful for any suggestions of sites that contain species
> pages (as per my definition).
> Many thanks,
> Roger
> BTW: I'd rather use the term "Taxon Page" as these things could apply
> at any rank but there seems to be a consensus to call them Species
> Pages no matter what rank they apply to and people are typically
> interested in species.
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Pete DeVries
Department of Entomology
University of Wisconsin - Madison
445 Russell Laboratories
1630 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706

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