[Taxacom] globalnames?

Kevin Richards RichardsK at landcareresearch.co.nz
Wed Sep 16 17:59:43 CDT 2009

-----Original Message-----
From: Stephen Thorpe [mailto:s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz]
Sent: Thursday, 17 September 2009 10:53 a.m.
To: Kevin Richards
Cc: Richard Pyle; dipteryx at freeler.nl; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: RE: [Taxacom] globalnames?

Giving the poster a very quick male goose(!), two thoughts strike me:
(1) Isn't this just a fancy way of saying that in order to keep track of information about a (recognised) species, we need to track its synonymy? Clearly, this has been done in non-electronic taxonomic literature since its infancy!

Partly.  But we need to connect this well tracked information to the "god-awful mess" of name strings (GNI).

(2) I suspect that the structure set out in your poster assumes too much consistency/perfect clarity in past taxonomic literature. Sometimes it can be extremely unclear what taxonomic/nomenclatural changes were intended, and it may take a considerable amount of taxonomic experience to disentangle the ambiguities. Although there are current attempts to change this, taxonomy in the past doesn't follow rigid formatting/protocols. It is worse if you want to include unpublished sources like specimen data. The average N.Z. herbarium may well be a neatly filed and highly regimented entity, but the same cannot be said for the average N.Z. entomology collection. It is IMPOSSIBLE in practice to keep track of who identified what, when, except for a tiny fraction of the total number of specimens in collections. NZAC is estimated to have roughly 8 million individual insect (terrestrial invert) specimens all up. Just think how much it would COST just to put a record for each on a database, nevermind the time it would take, and the number of transcription errors that would be made!

Yes, still lots of work to do.   :-)


From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Kevin Richards [RichardsK at landcareresearch.co.nz]
Sent: Thursday, 17 September 2009 10:17 a.m.
To: Richard Pyle; dipteryx at freeler.nl; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] globalnames?

To emphasise Rich's point, a gander at the poster we showed at e-Biosphere may help.

It shows the name expansion idea, going from the "god-awful mess" (name strings), drilling down into the stable nomenclatural names, and back out to "synonym" concepts and other connected GNI name strings.


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