This is an open letter of thanks to all who have helped in various ways in the compilation of names for uBio, and an invitation to provide continuing input.
The uBio project is motivated to use taxonomic knowledge to help organize and enhance information about organisms. We refer to the enhancement of informatics tools with taxonomic expertise as 'Taxonomic Intelligence'. To get to this stage we have relied on a co-operative of almost 200 individual taxonomists. Our indexing objectives require us to collect a greater diversity of names than names gathering projects that have been set up to meet more taxonomic needs. It also requires that all alternative names for the same organism are identified and mapped against each other into reconciliation groups, that homonyms (and there are many of them) are flagged and tools devided to promote disambiguation, and that the subjective elements of taxonomy are segregated by the objective elements. We are developing tools that will allow for subsequent annotation and vetting of names.
The structure called CU*STAR is intended to add value to the names, by offering an integrated structure that exploits a hierarchical structure for browsing, naviugation and to enhance searches. CU*STAR now embraces most genera of extant organisms. There remain a few gaps, and we welcome any offers to fill them. NameBank and CU*STAR will be synchronized so that additions to one environment flow to the other..
At this stage we invite the exploration of CU*STAR. Please bear in mind that this listing is the first iteration, and that we will add tools to allow additions and annotation. The system is devised to also allow alternative classifications to be built off the same compilation of names. I take responsibilty for all of the errors, and I am sure there are many. General comments can be directed back to me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
You will notice that three different people are identified with a name: (1) the authority for the name (sometimes), (2) the contributor or source of the names provided to us, and (3) the person who has offered to act as custodian of the name. In many cases, the contributor and custodian are the same. Custodians will be asked to deal with any expert questions that arise, and will be provided with edit controls over the content of their clade so that they can make changes. In many cases where the information was gathered from primary sources, we identify ourselves as custodians.
As names information is factual, no copyright applies. Given the importance of taxonomic information as metadata, we favour the widespread dissemination and use of these names. We will be adding various download tools in due course. We envisage the emergence of a Names Flow Pathway that will allow names to flow freely around the broad community of experts, users, key players as well as the general public. The pathway will include the uBio NameBank, CU*STAR, experts, custodians, and the wider public.
CU*STAR is one of several developments at the MBL (Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA) designed to assist in organizing and linking information about organisms on the internet. Software is written in PHP and is designed to be modular. A software library will be made available, and appropriately skilled folk are welcome to add new modules to the library. We wecolme any enquiries which seek to find ways of exploring and exploiting this information.
Click here for some more general information.