[Taxacom] ESA 2008 Talk Using Semantic Web technologies to tie together disparate data about species .. Unique URI for each taxon

Peter DeVries pete.devries at gmail.com
Thu Jan 22 20:57:44 CST 2009

I don't know how many of you are working with Semantic Web technologies, but
I did a talk at the2008 Meeting of the Entomological Society of America
Meeting in Reno.

You can see it here :

One of the issues that I have been struggling with is the need for a unique
identifier for a species
concept that stays the same despite changes in taxonomic hypotheses. When I
brought this up
earlier some mentioned that many considered the taxonomic hypothesis to be
the species concept.

I thought that this approach was wrong because it unnecessarily required me
to convince one of my
collaborators to adopt my taxonomic hypothesis when it was clear we were
talking about the same

To me a species is a real thing to which different taxonomic hypothesis are

With this in mind I implemented a system where each species has a unique URI
which resolves according
to the recommendations of the linked data community.

You can see this service at:  http://species.geospecies.org/

Here is the page for Culicidae

Here is an example of the URI for Aedes vexans


For a web browser this will resolve to the human readable page, for a
semantic web crawler
it will respond with RDF data.

Here is journal reference marked up using the two major bibliography
ontologies that includes
what species concepts are included in the article. This allows publications
to retain links to
species concepts despite changes in nomenclature.


Here is an RDF file of species observation records (the web version is
currently password protected)


I have chosen the UUID as the mechanism to make unique URI's not because of
their inherent beauty,
but because the allow anyone on almost any platform to create a unique id
without worrying about to
identical id's being created.

For those interested, I can send you a PDF of my talk slides and text.

I would also appreciate any feedback or suggestions :-)

- Pete

Pete DeVries
Department of Entomology
University of Wisconsin - Madison
445 Russell Laboratories
1630 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706
Email: pdevries at wisc.edu
Insects of Wisconsin <http://insects.entomology.wisc.edu/>
Spiders of Wisconsin <http://spiders.entomology.wisc.edu/>

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