[Taxacom] A little more on Species Entities

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Thu Oct 1 02:21:05 CDT 2009

>Demonstrating the difference between a change in how these two species were seen vs. a simple mislabeling or misidentification
In practice, a misidentification is a misidentification is a misidentification, whether or not it reflected current thinking at the time, or else was just the product of a rushed and sloppy identifier. From our point of view today, we don't need to know which. Perhaps you could start up a new discipline which studies old and defunct taxonomic concepts, but trying to add that into a database will just massively increase the complexity of the task for little or nothing of any use. Forgive the bad timing of this analogy, but think of taxonomy as like being on the crest of a wave - what we want to know is: are specimens correctly identified according to our CURRENT concepts? Seems to me that somehow the bioinfo people have lost sight of what the taxonomists actually do: when taxonomists see a published identification, they don't ask: what taxon concept is this talking about? Instead, and if they need to, they try to revisit the actual voucher specimens and see if they are correctly identified according to their present concept. In practice, this is the only way ...
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Peter DeVries [pete.devries at gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, 1 October 2009 7:59 p.m.
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: [Taxacom] A little more on Species Entities

The species entities can have many scientific names. These names are not
concepts just the literal string.

Don't assume that a given name can't be linked to several different species

The names list just says, *what are the various legitimate names that this
species entity has had overtime.*

It makes no assumptions that other species entities have not legitimately
used that same name string.

Here is a very hypothetical (incorrect) example:

http://lod.taxonconcept.org/ses/v6n7p now called *Puma concolor (Linnaeus,
         => http://lod.taxonconcept.org/scinames/v6n7p_1001 => gni:505310
         => http://lod.taxonconcept.org/scinames/v6n7p_1002 => gni:12104361

http://lod.taxonconcept.org/ses/kKOIv now called *Panthera leo* (Linnaeus,
         => http://lod.taxonconcept.org/scinames/kKOIv_1001 => gni:20753654
         => http://lod.taxonconcept.org/scinames/kKOIv_1002 => gni:12104361

This would be the case where at one time it was thought that all large cats
were one species called Felis concolor

What this hypothetical example shows is that at one time these two different
species were known by the
same literal name *Felis concolor* Linnaeus, 1771 (gni:12104361)

Demonstrating the difference between a change in how these two species were
seen vs. a simple mislabeling or misidentification.

An old specimen might be labeled Felis concolor, but someone "Joe" may
choose to tag it in their own database as

Label name "Felis concolor" interpreted by JoeSchmoe to be an instance
of *Panthera
leo* se:kKOIv

What if someone decides that the Lion really should be in its own genus
(Leothera), but believes that all the specimens of Panthera leo are still
one species?

Then *Panthera leo* se:kKOIv  => *Leothera leo* se:kKOIv

Now the idea "this is a species"  is cleanly separated from the idea that
"this is a species in a particular genus".

In my opinion, this is how it should have been done in the first place.

1) This is a species
2) This species has this particular position in the tree of life

Clearly two separate issues.


Need to know what the characters, definitive specimens, DNA barcodes etc,
are for a given species entity?

Puma concolor se:v6n7p <http://lod.taxonconcept.org/ses/v6n7p.xhtml>
Then click on namespaced version of the species entity URI in the line

- Pete

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