Scientific Names Are Ambiguous as Identifiers for Biological Taxa: Their Context and Definition Are Required for Accurate Data Integration

  • Jessie B. Kennedy
  • Robert Kukla
  • Trevor Paterson
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 3615)


Biologists use scientific names to label the organisms described in their data; however, these names are not unique identifiers for taxonomic entities. Alternative taxonomic classifications may apply the same name, associated with alternative definition or circumscription. Consequently, labelling data with scientific names alone does not unambiguously distinguish between taxon concepts. Accurate integration and comparison of biological data is required on taxon concepts, as defined in alternative taxonomic classifications. We have derived an abstract, inclusive model for the diverse representations of taxonomic concepts used by taxonomists and in taxonomic databases. This model has been implemented as a proposed standard XML schema for the exchange and comparison of taxonomic concepts between data providers and users. The representation and exchange of taxon definitions conformant with this schema will facilitate the development of taxonomic name/concept resolution services, allowing the meaningful integration and comparison of biological datasets, with greater accuracy than on the basis of name alone.


Taxonomic Classification Concept Definition Alternative Classification Character Description Taxonomic Concept 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessie B. Kennedy
    • 1
  • Robert Kukla
    • 1
  • Trevor Paterson
    • 1
  1. 1.School of ComputingNapier UniversityEdinburghUK

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