[Taxacom] the hurdle for all biodiv informatics initiatives

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Tue Feb 23 23:17:45 CST 2010

In my opinion, the "automated machines" will not replace a taxonomist's
brain in determining links between text-string names and "curated" names
(e.g., from a nomenclator).  At least not in my professional lifetime.  As I
said in my response to Jim, the point is not to eliminate the taxonomists's
brain -- it's to minimize the time a taxonomist's brain needs to spend on
such stuff (as well as increase the reliability of the decision, by
providing potentially relevant information).  Taxonomists are so poorly
funded these days, that I'd rather see them (us) spend their (our) precious
little time in the field (like I was this morning, on a Fijian reef), than
waste their time sitting at a computer (like I am right now).


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Stephen Thorpe [mailto:s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz] 
> Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 12:51 PM
> To: Tony.Rees at csiro.au; jim.croft at gmail.com; Richard Pyle
> Cc: Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: RE: [Taxacom] the hurdle for all biodiv informatics 
> initiatives
> So how are your automated machines going to handle name 
> instances of homonyms cited without associated author/year, 
> where only the broad context disambiguates them???
> "I found a Solenopsis crawling up the stem of a Solenopsis" 
> (imaginary example)
> ________________________________________
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
> [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of 
> Tony.Rees at csiro.au [Tony.Rees at csiro.au]
> Sent: Wednesday, 24 February 2010 11:42 a.m.
> To: jim.croft at gmail.com; deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
> Cc: Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] the hurdle for all biodiv informatics 
> initiatives
> Jim Croft wrote:
> > This example is only a problem if you consider (Evarthrus) and the 
> > various contractions of genus, author and date to be part 
> of the name 
> > (which IMO they aren't).
> >
> > Removing these attributes (name metadata?) from what 
> appears to be a 
> > name string, there appears to be, on the surface, only one 
> > Cyclotrachelus sodalis (as a name, as opposed to a named taxon
> > concept) which could be linked to a canonical nomenclator entry for 
> > that name containing links to everything you could ever 
> care to know 
> > about that name (type specimen metadata, type image(s), protologue 
> > bibliography metadata, protologue image, protologue transcription,
> > etc.)
> Ah, but if you remove these attributes, especially at genus 
> level, now you cannot distinguish between the following, as 
> per my recent post regarding Decapoda real world homonymy instances:
> Duncania Portell & Collins, 2004 (Decapoda: Leucosiidae), 
> listed as valid in De Grave et al., 2009, cf. Duncania 
> Koninck, 1872 (Cnidaria), also Duncania Pourtal├Ęs, 1874 
> (Cnidaria), and Duncania Bayle, 1879 (Mollusca) - at least 
> one of which is probably valid
> ... not to mention Duncania H.G.L. Reichenbach, 1828 which is 
> a genus in Magnoliophyta, currently considered a syn. of 
> Asaphes A. P. de Candolle 1825, (which itself has the jun. 
> homonym Asaphes K.P.J. Sprengel, 1827 in Botany, as well as 
> Asaphes Walker, 1834, Asaphes Kirby, 1837 and Asaphes Turner, 
> 1945 in Zoology...)
> As I have hinted before and we encounter again above, this is 
> a significantly non-trivial problem at genus level, even if 
> minor at species level.
> Cheers - Tony
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