[Taxacom] Chameleons, GBIF, and the Red List

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Tue Aug 26 07:41:32 CDT 2014

For all that I have expressed some skepticism about biodiversity databases
I have to admit to being involved in an effort during the mid-1990's to
establish a biodiversity resource for New Zealand in the form of a
biogeographic atlas using panbiogeographic methodology which would combine
locality information with spatial criteria to provide an interpretative
context for the locality data. The project was proposed as a far less
expensive approach to the multi-million dollar government program (Protect
Natural Areas - which involved areas that were in no way natural entities).
Our approach was far less expensive and would have involved a team of
specialists using published literature as well as direct collection
specimen research. The only way to do this was obtain funding from the
government's research foundation. Unfortunately this was a case where
'competitive' funding does not work as it involved an epistemological
difference to traditional views about such matters and so the proposal got
stomped on my local reviewers (not so much the international reviewers).
And some used the excuse that they would need to see the project
accomplished before it could be funded or words to that effect. After three
attempts it was evident that it was not going to happen where opponents of
the method were the primary reviewers (and mostly anonymous). We even tried
the Marsden Fund which was touted as being focused on high risk innovative
research. So much for that. Of course one may just say that the failure was
deserved and this is all just sour grapes. Naturally I think otherwise (and
I am forgiving of the situation since I now understand that competitive
funding involving projects of this nature are not really competitive and
this is just how the institution of science works as a social activity).

John Grehan

On Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 9:48 PM, Roderic Page <Roderic.Page at glasgow.ac.uk>

> Hi Lyubo,
> Yes, you could have structured annotations and free text for comments. But
> what I’d like to avoid is the idea that simply putting a comment system
> onto a database is the answer. It’s easy to do that (I use Disqus on my
> blog, and on BioStor and BioNames, for example), but that doesn’t get us
> terribly far (useful as people’s comments are).
> If we focus on the structured annotations, and the idea that multiple
> authorities can write about the same thing, then this leads inevitably to
> the idea of having a single, global annotation store that holds data about
> all kinds of things that we care about.
> This was what I was trying to articulate in
> http://iphylo.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/rethinking-annotating-biodiversity-data.html
> It can be done in a way that makes almost no demands on data providers at
> all, and if it’s done cleverly it will (as a side effect) provide a
> potentially powerful database we can use to ask some of the bigger
> questions about biodiversity data.
> Regards
> Rod
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> 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:  Roderic.Page at glasgow.ac.uk<mailto:Roderic.Page at glasgow.ac.uk>
> Tel:  +44 141 330 4778
> Skype:  rdmpage
> Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/rdmpage
> LinkedIn:  http://uk.linkedin.com/in/rdmpage
> Twitter:  http://twitter.com/rdmpage
> Blog:  http://iphylo.blogspot.com
> ORCID:  http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7101-9767
> Citations:  http://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?hl=en&user=4Z5WABAAAAAJ
> On 26 Aug 2014, at 08:56, Lyubomir Penev <lyubo.penev at gmail.com<mailto:
> lyubo.penev at gmail.com>> wrote:
> Rod,
> Your proposal is indeed elegant, but what about using two separate general
> types of annotations, e.g.: (1) Corrections/Additions and (2) Comments
> ("sticky notes")?
> The Type 1 (Annotations=Corrections/Additions) can go straight to
> improve/amend the data (after approval or not is a different story), for
> example adding geocoordinates for a well-known locality or adding a
> collector's name missing on label data but known from other source, etc.
> Annotations Type 2 (Annotations=Comments) could be associated with the
> original data or with Type 1 Annotations, e.g., "velvet worms cannot live
> in the ocean, correct geocoordinates for this locality", or "this locality
> might be wrongly spelled", etc.
> No need to explain that Type 2 annotations could be based on a rich
> controlled vocabulary of statements, besides the free text option, which
> will allow machine processing of a part of the process, including automated
> verification of the original data in some particular cases. For example,
> annotation of the kind  "Now in different genus"  could automatically query
> a trusted taxonomy source (CoL, GNUB, etc,) and display all possible
> versions and validity status of that name and its combinations.
> Regards,
> Lyubomir
> On Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 11:32 PM, Chuck Miller <Chuck.Miller at mobot.org
> <mailto:Chuck.Miller at mobot.org>> wrote:
> Rod,
> I see what you are thinking.
> I'm thinking too much about the alternate views that seem to always come
> up in comments about taxonomic data, even right here on Taxacom.  So, an
> annotation thread could be something like:
> "Now in different genus"
> "No way, respectfully what century are you from?. It's not even a species."
> "Maybe they meant Africa."
> "Yeh, in Namibia it was split and revised to Y, I think."
> "The phylogeny for Y is totally different. It's now in Z. Does no one read
> my work? Taxonomic tyranny!"
> "Consider this DOI that refers to new collections and it seems to
> contradict all y'all."
> What does "social" annotation turn into?  Lots of useful information but
> if it starts being contradictory or overlapping, can it be databased and
> which contradiction is the primary?  Hopefully, annotation of localities
> could be straightforward as in your example.
> Chuck
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