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Natural History SIG Taxonomy proposal

Natural History SIG Taxonomy proposal

Please find enclosed the proposal from the Natural History SIG for changes and improvemments to the Taxonomy module. Send all comments, concerns to me. We hope this is a good workable model of how we think about taxonomy.

Attachment: taxonomy_combinedproposal.pdf

Edited by: Gerard Wood (Axiell Melbourne) - 14-Aug-18 09:04:08

Joanna McCaffrey
Biodiversity Informatics Mgr.
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Re: Natural History SIG Taxonomy proposal

Hello - the attached is the final proposal, incorporating all of changes to date, in this last round: Taxonomy, Hierarchy, Hybrids

Attachment: taxonomy_combinedproposal.pdf

Edited by: Gerard Wood (Axiell Melbourne) - 14-Aug-18 09:03:32

Joanna McCaffrey
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Re: Natural History SIG Taxonomy proposal

Joanna and anyone else who can help:
After looking at the latest version of the proposed changes for the Taxonomy module I have to admit I’m a bit confused. I had hoped to be able to attend the EMu Users meeting next week so I could ask my questions in person rather than trying to explain our problems in writing but since I’m not going to make the meeting that’s not going to happen.
I had thought when I first looked at the Hierarchy tab that it was going to solve our problems but I think I jumped to the wrong conclusion. Our problem in the Invertebrate Collection at NMNH (Smithsonian) is one I’m sure is shared by other collections: we have large parts of our collection stored under outdated classifications. As a genus is shuffled from one family to the next we have not moved our collections to match the most up to date classification. We have tried to keep the genera under one classification so you don’t have to look in two or more places for specimens. In some cases we are 50 years or more out of date. Rather than having a button for “current id.” on the Identification tab of the catalog module we had it renamed to “filed as” so we know which identification, including it’s higher classification, is the one the specimen is filed under in our collection. Being out of date hasn’t been a big deal until recently. Now that our database appears on the web and with the implementation of the Darwin Core fields for loading data to the various biodiversity portals this has become a very big deal – our data is really out of date and it is embarrassing the scientists. For the most part we have not created synonyms to handle the updates even though this would be one way of solving the problem at least in part. Our old system didn’t do it very well and we haven’t had the time to do it in EMu. There is concern that if we created new taxonomy records for all species of a genus that have been moved to a new family the catalogers aren’t going to know which record to pick. If they select both so the identification grid shows both the up to date classification and the classification the specimen is stored under we can flag which one we want to be the “filed as” identification but we have no way to flag which one is the up to date one (the one we want to appear on the web). I have always assumed that the “Current Name” flag on the taxonomy tab was to indicate the current scientific name and had nothing to do with the higher classification so that won’t solve the problem. I thought the Hierarchy tab was going to allow us to have multiple higher classifications attached to a genus but on re-examination I don’t think that’s what was intended with that tab it’s just a means for auto-filling the classification tab. If we are going to have to go the route of creating new taxonomy records to show alternate classifications then we need a way to flag which is the one it’s stored under in the collection (Filed as Id.) and which is the version we want to appear when data is pulled for the various portals (Current Higher classification). Ideally, this means adding an extra radio button to the Identification grid in the Catalog module. If the Hierarchy tab is supposed to let us add alternate classifications for a genus, or higher, then we will need another box next to “Is Current” that can be used to show which one is the one used for storing the collection.
If any of you have figured out a better way to handle the problem of keeping the data up to date without having to re-label and move collections I would love to hear it. If you are at the NY meeting then please pass your ideas along to one of our department’s data managers (Karen Reed, Tyjuana Nickens and Bill Moser).

Linda

Linda Ward
Dept. Invertebrate Zoology
NMNH-SI
wardl@si.edu

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