[Taxacom] validation of taxon names

Chris Thompson xelaalex at cox.net
Wed Feb 15 10:04:03 CST 2012


All:

Yes, Paul is right in his response to Rod.

And, Rod is right to ask why simple questions (except one isn't simple) 
can't be answered and make public.

As some may know, I am building the Systema Dipterorum (www.diptera.org). 
That database has some 200,000 names related to flies (Insecta, Diptera) and 
some 160,000 species.

We are attempting to provide the maximal information about scientific names 
of flies, including information about the type-locality and location of type 
specimens. Yes, some of our information is shared with the Annual Checklist 
of Life (Species2000) BUT they use only a limited amount of it and do not 
include fossils, etc. And there are political issues*.

Why isn't this "very simple" job not done? BECAUSE no one wants to pay the 
costs. Everyone expects taxonomy to be FREE. In previous years, my sole 
source of support was a $50K US grant from the Schlinger Foundation, but 
last year it was cut to $25K, yet more two thousand new species of flies 
were described last year! Sisyphus would understand the problem!

Now the other not so simple issue is about "validation," or what is a 
"valid" name for a species. This is because despite what many continue to 
think, Taxonomy is SCIENCE, not stamp-collecting. Each species is a 
scientific hypothesis, and scientists do disagree upon what is the correct 
(valid) hypothesis. So, one taxonomist may declare his new species is valid, 
a correct hypothesis about a group of individuals that occur (or occurred) 
in nature and share similarities. But other taxonomists may disagree and 
argue that that hypothesis is based only on individual variation and the 
individuals really belong to another species / taxon.

AND then there is the issue of Different classifications: Is it Aedes 
aegypti or Stegomyia aegypti / Drosophila melanogaster or Sophophora 
melanogaster. Again scientists disagree over the issue.

Oh, well ... I need to get back to the database work.

Sincerely,

Chris Thompson

from home

*For example, they delete the New World phlebotomine flies from our data as 
it is critical to have a French contributor even though the information is 
15 years out of date! (2011 version)

-----Original Message----- 
From: Paul Kirk
Sent: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 4:55 AM
To: Roderic Page ; taxacom
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] validation of taxon names

Well Rod ... I guess you know what I'm going to say now (I'm on thin ice, of 
course) ... :-)

For the Fungi the combination of Index Fungorum / Species Fungorum provides 
these services ... for humans ... and if 'we' had more resources it could 
all be automated - yes, I know the web services still don't work - my bad - 
but then how should I spend my time: fixing it for machines or adding 
missing content for humans?

Regards,

Paul

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Roderic Page
Sent: 15 February 2012 09:51
To: taxacom
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] validation of taxon names

But isn't it bizarre that our field can't offer the kind of service Armand 
is looking for?

Very simple questions are being asked:

1. Is this a name?
2. Is this the correct way to write it?
3. Is this name currently in use?
4. What other names are related to this name (e.g., synonyms, lexical 
variants)?
5. Where was this name published? Can I see that publication?

Yes, there will always be edge cases, but in general these are 
straightforward questions and yet we have failed to provide a simple, global 
tool to answer them.

Regards

Rod

On 14 Feb 2012, at 21:02, Stephen Thorpe wrote:

> Hi Armand,
> Your question opens a familiar "can of worms", as we say!
> Currently, there is no comprehensive source of validated scientific names, 
> and certain vagueness in some ICZN Code articles makes it unlikely that 
> there could ever be a robust notion of name availability.
> I work on Wikispecies to create something akin to what you want, except 
> that I try to make the names verifiable by the user, rather than just 
> saying "you can trust me". Hence, it involves work on the part of the 
> user. Most users want someone else to do the work, and to be "spoon fed" 
> with validated names, but this just isn't realistic ...
>
> Cheers,
> Stephen
>
>
>
> ________________________________
> From: Armand Turpel <armand.turpel.mnhn at gmail.com>
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Sent: Tuesday, 14 February 2012 9:42 PM
> Subject: [Taxacom] validation of taxon names
>
> Hi,
>
> We have a database with over 80000 species taxon names which we want
> to compare and validate against other databases. Doing this job isn't
> very
> easy:
>
> 1. The majority of organizations only provide web interfaces to search
> for single taxon names.
> 2. Copyrights of data are some times not very clear 3. Quality of data
> is doubtful. >
> - Lamia amputator Guérin-Méneville, 1844
> - Lamia amputator Guerin-Meneville, 1844
> - Lamia amputator Guérin-Méneville
> - ......
>
>
> The only organization we know that provide its whole database for
> download is species2000 (catalogue of life > COL). We created a
> postgresql version for the COL data from which it is possible to
> compare a big number of taxon names in one run. Postgresql provide
> good fuzzy string algorithms. But the COL data isn't error free and it
> isn't complete for our region.
>
> The question is: Which organization provide trustful, complete (as
> possible) and full accessible data?
>
> a+
>
> arm
>
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---------------------------------------------------------
Roderic Page
Professor of Taxonomy
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine College of 
Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences Graham Kerr Building University of 
Glasgow Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

Email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Tel: +44 141 330 4778
Fax: +44 141 330 2792
AIM: rodpage1962 at aim.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1112517192
Twitter: http://twitter.com/rdmpage
Blog: http://iphylo.blogspot.com
Home page: http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/rod.html

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