[Taxacom] LSID versus names

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Fri Jun 22 03:54:26 CDT 2012

>we rely solely on second- or third-hand compilations as sources for names and their interpretation<

who is 'we'? Taxonomists don't rely so much on secondary sources, they tend to obtain the primary literature ...

I agree with Rod that the linking to primary literature is useful, but it takes a *very* long time, and doesn't get us much further than a first step ...

Better for more people, like myself, to verify names from non-O/A literature, compile other associated info., and make the verified names etc. available to wider audience via websites like Wikispecies or wherever ...


 From: Roderic Page <r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk>
To: TAXACOM <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> 
Cc: Paul Kirk <p.kirk at cabi.org>; Dr.B.J.Tindall <bti at dsmz.de>; Jim Croft <jim.croft at gmail.com>; Richard Pyle <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org>; Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz> 
Sent: Friday, 22 June 2012 8:42 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] LSID versus names
My own effort at linking zoological names to primary literature (i.e., digital identifiers such as DOIs, and or links to digitised literature) is here:


This is the public-facing version of a larger database that I'm currently working on that has around 300,000 names linked to some form of digital identifier (150,000 of them DOIs). This is about 20% of "new names", that is, original descriptions (out of roughly 1,400,000 in ION). This is roughly the same degree of coverage that Paul has with Index Fungorum. The newer version is part of my entry into the EOL Computational Data Challenge.

Much of this work is semi-automated, but an alarmingly large chunk requires manually searching for stuff. I suspect that 20-25% coverage is about the point at which things start to get really hard, partly because we start to hit brick walls in the shape of literature that simply isn't available oniine, and in many cases probably won't be for some time. At least, it won't be digitised either by BHL or by publishers (copyright and lack of a market, respectively). 

The other consideration here is scope. Stephen commented regarding Index Fungorum:

> perhaps I don't fully understand what you are doing exactly? Linking to scanned literature is good, but doesn't in itself solve much. The nomenclature needs to be verified, and the literature integrated into a coherent and meaningful whole, so you can get good up-to-date information on taxa ...

I disagree. Linking to the literature is a first, vital step, to exposing taxonomic work to the wider world. That in itself is a significant step beyond the current default (certainly for animal names) where (with the exception of a few highly digitised groups) we rely solely on second- or third-hand compilations as sources for names and their interpretation. I, for one, find it very useful to be able to go straight to the name in the literature and verify for myself how the name was spelt, what an author has said about it, etc. If we couple that with decent identifiers for names and literature, then we can start to build simple systems that enable us to same name 'w' was published in 'x', synonomised in 'y', and added to the ICZN Official Lists by 'z', for example. Making these statements is much easier if we have consistent, unique, widely used identifiers for the things (names and publications) we are talking about.



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
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