[Taxacom] Occurrence data...

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Thu Feb 17 23:47:52 CST 2011

It seems to me the significance of this paper (and the announcement) is that the occurrence and taxon data supplements are each accompanied by an XML file which assigns each of the fields in the occurrence and taxon tables to a Darwin Core item. This is what Darwin Core Archives are all about, and I assume this assignment has been done by the authors.

A barrier to be overcome if DCAs are to appear more often in publications is that most data creators are either unfamiliar with the TDWG scheme for classifying and formatting data items, or are unwilling to spend time working out how their own preferred data fields relate to that scheme.

It would obviously be better if the authors did the assignments, rather than the publishers, but that doesn't mean there won't be omissions or confusions in either case. In the Talamas et al. taxon table, for example, only 2 of the 42 Trichoteleia species have the 'author' field ('scientificNameAuthorship') populated, and the 'parent_taxon' entry for the synonym Alloteleia Pauliani is Trichoteleia pauliani, which is the currently valid name. 'parent_taxon' is assigned to 'parentNameUsage', which is meant to refer to a higher taxon; for all either Trichoteleia species in the table, the 'parent_name' entry is Trichoteleia, the genus.

Well, it gets back to my favourite question about biodiversity data aggregation: who is going to use the data, and for what purposes? To which I can now add another: Do users just want the original data as offered by the data creators, or do they want data moved to a Darwin Core structure (a step potentially involving error) and delivered through an elaborate online interface with a licence agreement and bandwidth issues?

If ZooKeys and PhytoKeys are already encouraging authors to include data supplements which will be freely available online, is it really important to ask for that XML assignment file as well?
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
Ph: (03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Webpage: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/?articleID=570

More information about the Taxacom mailing list