Taxonomists classify biological specimens into groups (taxa) on the basis of similarities between their observed features ('characters'). The descrip- tion of these 'characters' is therefore central to taxonomy, but there is currently no agreed model, defined terminology nor methodology for composing these descriptions. This lack of a common conceptual model, together with the indi- vidualistic working practices of taxonomists, means that descriptions are not composed consistently, and are not easy to interpret and re-use, nor are datasets comparable. The purpose of the Prometheus II project is to improve the inter- pretation and comparison of plant descriptions. To this end we propose a new conceptual model for unambiguously representing character descriptions, and have developed a controlled vocabulary as an ontology of defined terms, which will be used to describe specimens according to our character model.
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