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BRC Code interpretation

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BRC Code interpretation

by jyearsley » Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:05 pm

Hi,

Which variable in the database should I use to identify a species?

I have been using the brcconcept, but I see some records with multiple brcc codes
e.g. Festuca ovina has codes Vas_821, Vas_822 and the composite Vas_821,Vas_822

Does species name give the latest agreed upon classification or does it contain historical names that are no longer currently used?


I am analysing the records by looking at rare species, so I don't want to confuse matters by including nomenclatures changes of a species as a distinct rare species.

Any advice very welcome
Jon Yearsley

PS. does the database have metadata explaining all the variables in the database?
Lecturer in Ecological Modelling
School of Biology and Environmental Science & Earth Institute
University College Dublin

Email: jon.yearsley@ucd.ie
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Re: BRC Code interpretation

by admin » Fri Mar 27, 2015 12:10 am

Hi Jon,

Problems with multiple codes are often due to the way the search results are grouped. Grouping by 'species' can result in combinations of aggregate taxa and sensu stricto taxa.

Vas_821 => Festuca ovina agg.
Vas_822 => Festuca ovina s.s.

The way the database is handling this currently is probably not ideal, but there are some problems with any method of grouping.

For example in a mixed set of results containing F. ovina agg., F. ovina s.s. and F. vivipara when grouping by 'species' would they be best grouped as three distinct concepts, as two (ovina and vivipara) or all as ovina agg.

I'm definitely open to suggestions - but the diverse options for grouping taxa are already becoming quite confusing. The least ambiguous results will be achieved by grouping by taxon rather than by species - but I appreciate that the proliferation of infra-specific taxa may make analysis more difficult if results are grouped on that basis.


To more directly address your query - at present I'd suggest using fully qualified binomial names wherever possible to identify taxa, though I'd be interested to hear arguments in favour of code schemes.

BRC numbers used to be the de facto standard, but the taxonomy underlying the numbering scheme is not currently up to date and there are many taxa in the DDb that do not have brc codes. Whether the brc numbering will be continued is still a matter of active discussion. Revising the the NBN/NHM species inventory numbers is an urgent priority - once that's done then every taxon concept recognised in the database will have a unique code. From a purist database perspective the NHM scheme is technically superior to brc numbering but the codes are too long for a human to remember or use easily. The DDb's own id codes (e.g. of the form 2cd4p9h.vg8) are stable and unique but please do not use these, except in the very limited case of preparing data for import to the DDb - I don't want to inadvertently introduce yet another taxon code scheme.

There is an excess proliferation of meta-data in the DDb currently (and much of it is not well-documented). It is my intention to try in the medium term to eliminate many of the duplicate parallel codes for taxon identification and status - but attempts to do so will need to be cautious and well-planned.

I'm aware that I've not really answered your questions, which touch many issues that are not satisfactorily resolved yet.

best wishes,

Tom
Tom Humphrey
Database Officer, Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI)
c/o Centre for Ecology and Hydrology,Maclean Building, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BB, UK.
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Re: BRC Code interpretation

by jyearsley » Fri Mar 27, 2015 12:46 am

Hi Tom,

Thanks for your prompt answer. That does address the main issue.
I'll use binomial names as you suggest. I think using taxon will inflate the number of rarely recorded species/variants.
Binomial names also have the advantage of being relatively understandable as long as any changes in species name are propagated through the whole database.

Good also to know that BRC numbers have issues.
And more documentation would certainly help the non-specialist user like myself.

Jon
Lecturer in Ecological Modelling
School of Biology and Environmental Science & Earth Institute
University College Dublin

Email: jon.yearsley@ucd.ie
http://www.ucd.ie/bioenvsci/ourstaff/ac ... earsleyjon
http://www.ucd.ie/ecomodel
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