The CU*STAR classification is being developed to take advantage of the informatics value of hierarchical organizations within biological classifications. It is designed with the capacity to access all names gathered by the uBio project. It is a communal environment with individuals and projects taking responsibility for the content and organization of clades. Responsible parties are referred to as 'custodians'.
CU*STAR is a component part of the taxonomically intelligent services and tools of uBio. CU*STAR is the indexing backbone to the star websites for biology - such as micro*scope.
The current CU*STAR classification is an interim structure. Its purpose is to act as an indexing structure with the consequence that it does not emphasize the same elements of biological hierarchies as do conventional taxonomies. With its indexing objectives, uBio sets different poriorities to other name-gathering initiatives such as Species2000 and ECAT. NameBank includes not only names sanctioned by the codes of nomenclature, but colloquial names, mis-spellings and other labels for taxa that have ever been used in a published statement about organisms. CU*STAR is taxonomically intelligent in that it addresses the 'many names for one species' and 'one name for many species' problems. Within CU*STAR, as within uBio, names can be annotated to allow the status to be made explicit.
uBio places names within a registry called NameBank. uBio gave high priority to gathering generic names of all living taxa. The binomial nature of species names can be exploited to allow low resolution but comprehensive indexing for all living organisms as soon as all generic names were compiled. The compilation of generic names also informs automated name recognition that underpin indexing services and speed up the acquisition of names for NameBank.
A unified classification needs to accommodate conflicting views about taxonomies. CU*STAR has been designed so that custodians can create alternative classifications within it, and all classifications will be accessible through it. This has been made possible by segegating objective information about names (the names, their authorities, etc.) from the subjective elements of taxonomy (such as classification schemes).
Most aggregators of names tend to admit names only after taxonomic vetting has taken place. The process tends to select only names which are compliant with the appropriate code of nomenclature and so is not appropriate to the development of an index that must know all names that may have been associated with any biological information. The vetting process is intellectually demanding and slows the process of developing a comprehensive system of metadata that can be used in informatics initiatives. As a result, CU*STAR defers the task of taxonomic vetting until after the names have been gathered. That vetting process will allow the status of names to be attached to the names, and will link alternative names to form the reconciliation groups that address the 'many names for one taxo'n problem. Until that process gains momentum, as currently, CU*STAR will be an hybrid lying between an index and a biological classification. At this stage of its growth it serves neither purpose perfectly.
We are currently preparing CU*STAR for the involvement of the custodians (more). They will be able to amend the structure of the CU*STAR classification to ensure that it is up-to-date and meets their critical standards. This development will convert CU*STAR into a communal structure. Custodians may be individuals, groups or projects. Where possible we plan to synchronize the content of CU*STAR with data environments maintained by the custodians so that changes only have to be made in one location. CU*STAR will be provided with commentary tools to promote feedback from the wider community to ensure that CU*STAR expands and its accuracy is improved.
Any questions about this schema should be directed to the secretariat.