Date sent: Mon, 20 Nov 1995 17:34:39 UTC+0200
Subject: Minutes of TDWG 10
International Working Group on Taxonomic Database (TDWG)
Report of the tenth Annual meeting at the Real Jardin Botanico-
4-6 October, 1995
Compiled by F. Pando with the assistance of Scott Peterson
TDWG Secretariat Real Jardin Botanico-CSIC,
Plaza de Murillo, 2 28014 Madrid, Spain
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel.: +34 1 420 3017 Fax: +34 1
Francisco Pando opened the meeting and the participants were
welcomed by Maria Teresa Telleria, Director of the Real Jardin
Botanico. F. Pando covered some domestic details.
Richard Pankhurst was introduced as the speaker giving a history
of TDWG and a review of utilizing standards in taxonomic
databases. Richard discussed the utilization of hard copy books
versus electronic versions and the possibility of moving forward
into an electronic environment. An overhead was shown that
illustrated the relationship of TDWG to other members of ICSU.
The various existing TDWG standards were then discussed.
The current financial status was reviewed by the Treasurer.
Several members indicated that they haven't received the latest
"Names" standard. The new Secretary needs to check with Rusty
Russell and ensure that all members have received this publication
(BIOSIS-UK, John Burnett, and Karen Wilson indicated that they had
not received it.)
Bases de datos en America Latina:
Patricia Davila reported on the efforts to obtain information on
the taxonomic databases pertaining to Latin America. Forms were
completed by data holders, though the information regarding Brazil
was rather spotty. The databases pertaining to plants was
incorporated into the IOPI Database of Databases that is
accessible on the IOPI Home Page
Sue Hollis asked for persons interested in participating in the
subgroup for revising the standard to provide their name to her or
Richard Brummitt. Sue talked about the possibility of making an
electronic database available that would include the gazetteer.
Standardizing lower levels was discussed. Sue and Dick indicated
that this was a subject of earlier discussions in the first
edition and found that these entities were too variable around the
world. The county level in the U.S. was a unique situation that
wasn't replicated globally. Dick reviewed the current list of
specific changes that have been proposed.
Action: Taking into account political changes while mantaining
the scheme amd basis. It is being used widely. A new subgroup will
be gathered to act as consultans for the new version.
Harriet Gillett discussed the POSS in conection with the new IUCN
threat categories and showed a review of the WCMC database housed
in BG-BASE. Walter Berendsohn moved that the revised POSS
standard be adopted by TDWG. Paco Pando seconded and suggested
that Harriet forward the document to Ellen Farr to begin the
Action: The secretary will contact the TDWG Standard Editor, Ellen
Farr, to beguin the editing process.
The chair for the subgroup, Rusty Russell, was not present and had
not provided the meeting with the history of the subgroup. Paco
Pando reviewed the use of the barcode at RJB. Symbology 39 has a
restricted ASCII set of about 128 characters (both letters and
numbers). This stimulated discussions from institutions, such as
the BM and P (J.-N. Labat). Robert Huxley stated that barcode
ensures that the accession numbers are read correctly and is
efficent for processing loans. Barcode equipment is inexpensive
and is relatively foolproof. BM (Charles Hussey) and B (Walter
Berendsohn) commented upon the hierarchy for barcodes, such as a
barcode being assigned to an incoming lot, then assigning another
to a set within the lot, then one to each individual. Different
approaches were commented such as 1 barcode ->1 object-> part of a
specimen; 1 barcode ->1 sheet -> 1 to several specimens; 1 barcode
->1 specimen -> 1 to several parts.
Action: Rob Huxley will contact Rusty Russell to produce a
report from the information gathered by the conveners via
questionaire and other means. This group will promote a discussion
that lead to a technical report.
People interested in being part of the subgroup: Stephen Jury,
Jean-N"el Labat, Paco Pando & Richard Pankhurst.
Richard Pankhurst circulated a minimum DELTA data set that was
produced by the work group. He indicated that there was no
universal agreement on what was important. After much work, the
lenght of the current draft list seems rather unsuitable for what
is demanded from a descriptor list. It is to short to describe a
plant properly or even to differenciate plant families. On the
other hand is too long do be implemented in a database to allow
querys such as "how may endargered trees are in ...". Various
persons pointed out that the minimal data set was too minimal.
Walter Berendsohn suggested that we need to discern between
taxonomic data sets versus general descriptors of plants. Some
suggested that we adopt standards that meet both needs. Discussion
on what kind of list is requiered from the subgroup follows. It
was agreed that a short list intended for rought plant life form
clasiffication is what should be addressed by this subgroup.
Landscape & Vegetation:
Mike Lock reviewed the activities of this subgroup. Its aim had
been to produce a global scheme for Vegetation and Habitat
description, avoiding local or vernacular terms. Several drafts
had been produced and discussed at TDWG meetings, and had been
published in the Newsletter of the British Ecological Society.
Very few responses had been received and it seemed likely that
global agreement would be impossible. In view of this, he
recommended that the group should be formally wound up, and this
W. Beredsohn (convener) reviewed the histoy of the subgroup. It
was started at Las Palmas Meeting (1989) by James Beach, who
prepared a data element list. This list underwent sucessive
revisions in the following years. Robert Haynes (Univ. of Alabama)
substituted Beach during the Xalapa Meeting (1992). No much work
has been acomplish since then. Walter suggested that the "list
approach" is a dead end, since it does not take into account the
estructure of the data.
Walter proposes to use modeling techniques to formulate a standard
for accesions data. Data are divided into several areas and
hierarchical data structure diagrams (as elaborated in the Common
Dataestructure for Europena Floristic Databases project) are
prepared for each area. Hierarchical diagrams are used for
comunication and easily "translated" into entity relationship
diagrams or element lists.
Regarding mode of operation, the subgroup will comunicate as much
as posibe by Internet email, and Walter will make available in
internet several CDEFD diagrams for dicussion by the subgroup.
About how to proceed, it was agreed to tackle the botanical
collections first, and later to expand the scope of the subgroup
to incorporate othe biological collections.
Action: W. Berendsohn will prepare a draft for discussion in six
Changes being incorporated. To be put on the web in a year time.
Reinventing TDWG: Comunication, Iniciative, Resources.
A good more deal of comunication and advertising of the activities
of TDWG is needed. (Junko Shimura, Harriet Gillett) Actions: o
Adrian Rissone and Robert Huxley offered to set a TDWG Listserver
at the Natural History Museum (London). o Set a WWW Home page,
offers by Scott Peterson and WCMC. o Relaunching of TDWG
Newsletter edited by Mike Lock. o Preparing a summary of the
meeting to put in journals and listservers: Journal of the
Linnean, Taxon, Herbarium News, Taxacom, (for Zoological Journals,
contact Charles Hussey).
The role of TDWG will shift from creating new standards towards
mantaining and updating the existing ones. problem: procedure for
aproval/endorsement of subsequent versions of standards: There is
no provission in the TDWG Constitution to deal with this
situation. Actions: o A provisional procedure: "TDWG will
automatically aprove new editions of existing standards data
lists, where there has been no change to structure and to the
philosophy and method of data gathering" is voted and approved,
with no vote on the contrary, interinly until next annual meeting.
o A formal proposal for Constitution ammenment will be prepared by
the executive committee in order to be considered in the next TDWG
Electronic version of the standards. There is no technical problem
for those standards that TDWG is the copyright ownwer. But in any
case, The publisher should be contacted. Action: Contact Robert
Kiger and study the options.
One of function of the chairman may be to seek funds for TDWG
The published standards are not properly distributed.
Action: o Members that have not receved the copies that are
entittled to receive must contact the secretary.
o Prepare a electronic document of the published and endorsed
standards and how can be obtained. to put wherever is requested.
Species 2000 by Paul Kirk. See report attached at the end of this
Sir John Burnett will convene a new subgroup for exploring and
gathering information regading copyright of electronical
publication and distribution.
Action: People interested in this issue, or with information in
this matter should contact the convener
Proposal for TDWG to endorse the IUCN threat cateogories.
Action: Harriet Gillett, will send a batch of booklets to the
secretay who will distribute them to the membership in order to
vote the proposal in the next TDWG Annual meeting, as requiered by
A 2nd version of the ITF has been prepared by BGCI. This new
version comprises a mayor revision of the first one, and the
authors expect to publish it during 1997, ten year after the
publication of ITF. It seems adequate to publish this document in
the Plant Taxonomic Database Stantandards.
Action: Contact Diane Wyse Jackson (leader of the ITF-2 team) and
ask her how she woud prefer Subgroup? Distribution of the
standard? A tentative time table distribution of the draft
standard; (call for comments) include the aproval in the next TDWG
meeting and publish in Pl. Tax. Std series in 1997.
To prepare ground to expand TDWG activities ouside plants, Charles
Hussey volunteered to prepare a report on zoological standards.
Election of Officers: New executive commitee: Chairperson:
Stephen Jury. Secretary: Francisco Pando Treasurer: Scott
Peterson. Continental Secretaries: Sue Hollis (Europe), Patricia
Koleff (South America), Patricia Davila (North America), Junko
Shimura (Asia), Barry Conn (Oceania). Newsletter Editor: Michael
Time and place of next meeting
Three places to investigate:
1) In conection to the second World congress on the Preservation
and conservation of Natural History Collections (Cambridge, UK,
2) In conection to the fith International Congress of Systematic
and evolutiunary Biology(17-24 Aug, Budapest)
3) Associated with some botanical meetings to be held in Australia
(Melburne Sept-Oct, time-slot available: 29 Sept-6 Oct).
Other issues and resolutions:
Georgina Makenzie (BIOSIS, UK) offrered to distribute any printed
matter to the membership.
To the request of IOPI, Scott Peterson is appointed the new liason
Investigate how to make available the published standards in
Constitution in electronic format.
A subgroup for checking consistency across TDWG standards is
Indexing the World's known Species
International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS)
in co-operation with ICSU Committee on Data for Science and
Technology (CODATA), International Union of Microbiological
Species 2000 has the objective of enumerating all known species of
plants, animals, fungi and microbes on Earth as the baseline
dataset for studies of global biodiversity. The names of these
species provide the crucial link both in the communication of
biodiversity information, and in accessing the data of pure and
applied biological disciplines. The objective is to facilitate the
creation of global master species databases, by augmenting
existing taxonomic databases and where appropriate establishing
Implementation of Species 2000 will involve: forming a federation
of existing taxonomic databases, establishing a user access
framework and common gateway to member databases using electronic
(eg. Internet) and non-electronic media, stimulating the
establishment of global master species databases for all groups of
organisms, by accelerating the completion of existing systems and
developing new ones, working to an ultimate goal of providing a
computer based index of all known species, developing procedures
both to maintain the databases and to update the taxonomy,
cooperating with international nomenclatural authorities in
stabilizing nomenclature. The Species 2000 programme will thus
provide a clearing house for taxonomic data on the world's known
For further information contact :
Species 2000 Secretariat Biology Department, University of
Southampton, Southampton, SO16 7PX, UK.
Tel: +44 1703 592444 Fax: +44 1703 594269 Email: