[Taxacom] saturday morning fun

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sun Nov 28 16:36:48 CST 2010

As I have already pointed out (twice), the weevil genus Mimus was renamed 
Marvaldiella in 1999 (last century!) , details here: 
when GBIF (or CoL) says that a name is accepted, I expect that to actually mean 


From: David Remsen (GBIF) <dremsen at gbif.org>
To: Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
Cc: David Remsen (GBIF) <dremsen at gbif.org>; Wolfgang Lorenz 
<faunaplan at googlemail.com>; "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu" 
<Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Mon, 29 November, 2010 11:25:24 AM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] saturday morning fun

Do you mean why didn't we include the word "provisionally" for the weevil on 
that web page?   Firstly,  I told you I was going to be looking into more detail 
tomorrow (mine, not yours - its still Sunday night here - albeit 22:56).   
 Second,  provisional or not,  this would not have impacted the explanation I 
provided before.   The COL asserts there is a genus Mimus in the weevils and 
grouped several species in it.   This is valuable information regardless of the 
taxonomic status especially if even taxonomists are publishing species names, or 
specimens, or weevils with this genus.   Sure,  we could edit out the 
provisional taxa from COL and not include them  in our derived taxonomic 
structure and have been only left with Mimus the bird.   What would that have 

Our only 'authority' indicates there are two Mimus.    We retained it as part of 
the structure we use to organise data because it said so.  That is why.   
Perhaps a better understanding of what provisional means and why are there two 
animal Mimus in the COL in the first place is what I need.    

David Remsen

On Nov 28, 2010, at 10:29 PM, Stephen Thorpe wrote:

>4. The Catalogue of Life asserts that the genus Mimus is is both a bird and a 
>weevil  (one accepted and one provisionally so).
>so, why oh why are they both listed as accepted names on this GBIF page???
From: David Remsen (GBIF) <dremsen at gbif.org>
>To: Wolfgang Lorenz <faunaplan at googlemail.com>
>Cc: "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu" <Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
>Sent: Mon, 29 November, 2010 5:34:34 AM
>Subject: Re: [Taxacom] saturday morning fun
>The explanation I can give for this instance, and on which I will try  
>to provide more detail in a following mail, is this:
>1.  The Catalogue of Life, with IPNI and Index Fungorum,  provide the  
>ONLY 'taxonomic authority' we have at our means to improve the vastly  
>inconsistent and messy GBIF primary data index. (the 264M records that  
>originate in ~8000 natural history collections/observational data.)
>2.  These 'authorities'  only directory overlap taxa in a minority of  
>the data.  To answer questions like "what Coleoptera exist in the  
>index" requires deriving a taxonomy based on taxonomic information  
>from the original sources and building a classification based on some  
>simple rules.  We use these sources and rules to build a more  
>comprehensive classification that is inclusive of all the data.  It's  
>either that or we cannot report on around half the data in the index.
>3.  Given that homonyms (we called them homographs) exist we need to  
>account for them which is highly problematic.  One rule however, is  
>that we try to limit homonyms to one per Kingdom.
>4. The Catalogue of Life asserts that the genus Mimus is is both a  
>bird and a weevil  (one accepted and one provisionally so).  Based on  
>our rules, the artificial higher taxonomy we assembled appears to have  
>limited the Animalia to one valid Mimus and placed all Animal Mimus  
>into the weevils.
>This is how it appears to me though I am trying to look into the  
>specific reason.  We recognise the methodology and the sources we use  
>to derive this merged taxonomic backbone is problematic and have been  
>working for almost a year now to fix it in our development portal.    
>We will do better.
>The simplest way to help us fix the organisation of these data would  
>be to
>1) provide access to taxonomic authority files to GBIF.  We released  
>a call last week for funds to evaluate our taxonomic checklist format  
>and use this to publish taxonomic data in an international  
>standardised format.  Any data we can access in this format that is  
>asserted to be authoritative would be used to improve precision and  
>recall in our portal.
>2) Propose a better methodology for organising the data and help  
>implement it.  I can pass anyone interested a data file illustrating  
>what the 'taxonomy' in our raw data looks like but I don't think many  
>of you would be prepared for it.  However, we would be happy to  
>consider directing some of our 2011 budget for focusing on these  
>issues toward ideas.  While you might think it's millions in reality  
>you need to remove a zero and subtract from there.
>David Remsen, Senior Programme Officer
>Electronic Catalog of Names of Known Organisms
>Global Biodiversity Information Facility Secretariat
>Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
>Tel: +45-35321472  Fax: +45-35321480
>Mobile +45 28751472
>Skype: dremsen
>Taxacom Mailing List
>Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
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>(1) http://taxacom.markmail.org
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