A Universal Character Model and Ontology of Defined Terms for Taxonomic Description

  • Paterson T
  • Kennedy J
  • Pullan M
 et al. 
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Abstract

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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Authors

  • Trevor Paterson

  • Jessie B. Kennedy

  • Martin R. Pullan

  • Alan Cannon

  • Kate E. Armstrong

  • Mark F. Watson

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