Nomencurator: a nomenclatural history model to handle multiple taxonomic views

Ytow, Nozomi; Morse, David R. and Roberts, David McL. (2001). Nomencurator: a nomenclatural history model to handle multiple taxonomic views. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 73(1) pp. 81–98.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8312.2001.tb01348.x

Abstract

Evolutionary studies are generating increasing numbers of phylogenies which, in turn, sometimes result in changes to hierarchical organization and therefore changes in taxonomic nomenclature. A three-layered data model for a nomenclature database has been developed in order to elucidate the information structure in nomenclature and as a means to organize and manage a large, dynamic knowledge-base. In contrast to most other taxonomic databases, the model is publication-oriented rather than taxon-oriented and dynamic rather than static, in order to mimic the processes that taxonomists use naturally. The three-layered structure requires data integrity localized to each publication, instead of global data integrity, which relaxes constraints common to taxonomic databases and permits multiple taxonomic opinions: taxon names are made available as metadata within the model. Its prototype implementation, written in C++, has an autonomous self-identification mechanism to avoid spurious data-inflation in a publication-oriented data model. Self-identification is also desirable for distributed implementations of the nomenclature database. Publication-oriented design also will make maintenance easier than for taxon-oriented databases, much of the maintenance workload being amenable to automation. The three-layered data model was designed for use by taxonomists, but is also able to provide concise, reduced expression for non-experts required in biodiversity research, for example.

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