[Taxacom] HHDB: hemihomonyms

Wolfgang Lorenz faunaplan at googlemail.com
Tue Jan 19 07:35:22 CST 2010


Dear Pat and all,

yes absolutely, I fully agree when you say:
>>systematic biology should not, and need not, be subservient to the
convenience of programmers, their indexing algorithms and database models.
The biodiversity software designers should be serving the needs of
systematic biology, not the other way around.  <<

But let me try again: my vision is ZooBank playing a central role in the new
media environment. Databases are a new form of publication with new
challenges. In a central register like ZooBank, wouldn't it make sense to
offer a little semantic extension to taxonomic names so that programmers &
users of computers and internet have more chances to avoid all those
pitfalls with taxonomic names? It will not change the traditional use of
taxonomic names, but it will add more clarity for database environments, I
believe.
Some more examples, - in addition to what we have already seen of
"hemihomonyms":

In a set of zoological binomina like the following:
Pelophila borealis
Pelophila lutheri
Pelophila rudis
you cannot see the pitfall at once:  - one name is combined with a junior
generic homonym (GBIF has thousands of such pitfallen names!)
ZooBank could offer extended name strings (stable, unique and
human-readable!) - especially for the purpose of error cleaning/prevention
in large dataportals, e.g.:
ZS-Pelophila_borealis
ZS-2Pelophila_lutheri
ZS-Pelophila_rudis

or,
ZG-Cicindelina
ZF-Cicindelina
for homonymous genus and family-group names in zoology (both valid and not
"illegal"), etc.

Then, just imagine the huge task of separating available (*true*) and
unavailable (erroneous etc.) taxonomic names out there on the internet (the
next step in globalnames.org, I guess).
It cannot work without a complete master list of available names. Especially
in zoology, where we have millions of secondary generic combinations that
are not required to be validly published. How can we get such a complete
list? I believe we can: set up ZooBank in a way to comprise all names, but
clearly flag primary species-group names (that must be validly published)
and subsequent generic combinations. ZooBank can offer semantic name strings
that assist databasers to do their job and build upon a strong tradition of
250 years.

LSIDs assigned to taxonomic names? Is this a good idea or does it only make
things more complicated? It's an issue that is exactly one reason why I
think we shouldn't just sit and wait what programmers are doing/ planning to
do for us...
And, yes, would be very interesting to see ideas about the next steps in
globalnames.org!

Best regards,
Wolfgang
------------------------------------
Wolfgang Lorenz, Tutzing, Germany



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