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Economic Botany

Economic Botany

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Economic Botany

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  1. Giardinod’Inverno 16:00-17:30 TDWG 2013 Florence Economic Botany Mark Jackson (M.Jackson@kew.org)

  2. Agenda • Description • Issues • Where Next?

  3. History F.E.M. Cook (1995) Economic Botany Data Collection Standard • Status: TDWG Prior Standard • Category: Best Current practice • Permanent URL: http://www.tdwg.org/standards/103/ • Core content available: http://www.kew.org/tdwguses/

  4. Purpose • A set of standard terms for describing plant uses • Applicable to taxa and specimens • Comprehensive and unambiguous • To make it easy to record information about uses • To make it easy to find information on uses • To promote collaboration through information exchange and comparison of datasets

  5. What is the Uses Standard? • A collection of vocabularies or sets of words, that are used singly or, more often, in combination to describe uses of plants. • Like terms are grouped. • Each group has broad and narrow terms. • Acceptable combinations of terms are defined as part of the standard.

  6. Structure and Content

  7. Structure • Hierarchy • Level 1 terms • Level 2 terms • Multiple sets of level 3 terms • Each set of level 3 terms may have a hierarchy • Level 3 subjects depend on level 2 term

  8. Issues • Presentation unduly complex. • Simplification necessary to encourage other users e.g. taxonomists. • Implementation can be confusing to users. • E.g. Plant Parts appear at different levels in the current system (depending on which Level 1). • Certain use groups present cross-cultural difficulties. • User requirements differ, and local versions have tended to develop based on local needs.

  9. Other issues • Book only – no digital format! • No guidance re combining terms • e.g. Food, Leaves, young leaves + Food, Leaves, ceremonial food • Overlap in level 3 sets

  10. What next?

  11. Proposed Simplifications 2013 • Merge closely related Level 1 terms. • Food to join with Food additives. • Bee plants to join with Invertebrate food. • Vertebrate poisons to join with non-vertebrate poisons. • Level 1 stabilised. • Rationalise descriptors. • i.e. don't vary descriptor terms according to use group. • Plant part, Organism, Chemical lists consistent throughout. • Allow flexibility of choice of Level 3 descriptors. • Choice available from a set of defined descriptors according to local need.

  12. Additional proposed changes 2013 • Move Antifertility agents from SOCIAL USES to MEDICINES. • Add WEEDS as new Level 1 category. • Recommend Food Type/Raw material as the Level 2 option for FOOD (rather than Plant parts).

  13. Society for Economic Botany Biocultural Collections Meeting June 2013 • Two opposing points of view: • Need for a simple, hierarchical, structured, comprehensive system of non-overlapping terms. • Need a less structured approach based on vocabulary alone with no hierarchies, or groups of terms only synonyms. • The majority of the discussion covered new methods for handling vocabularies: • Ontologies, semantic web, proximity searching, use of algorithms to make word associations, development of controlled vocabulary to develop lexicons etc.

  14. Way forward? • Re-establish the former Economic Botany Interest Group perhaps as “Uses” Interest Group and liaise with TDWG organisation? • Motivation for the group • Agree vocabularies and systems for describing, recording and exchanging information concerning the uses of organisms. • To enable use descriptions for both entire taxaand individual specimens. • Activity focus • Short Term – Set up process to agree simplified version of structured Plant Use Standard. Especially important to agree a stable top level. • Long Term – Review alternative novel approaches for handling vocabularies with emerging IT technology. • Extend the remit from plants to all organisms.

  15. Discussion at TDWG • Pros and cons of the existing prior standard: • Additional views of users of the prior standard (or alternative systems); • Uses case examples; • Review revised simplified version • Obtain potential reviewers of the new simplified version of the prior standard. • Review novel IT approaches to vocabularies • Does TDWG have a view on how much emphasis should be placed on vocabulary versus structure? • What emerging technologies are useful or recommended? • The merits and potential of semantic web, ontologies, proximity searching, use of algorithms to make word associations, development of controlled vocabulary to develop lexicons etc. • Is there the capability or capacity to extend beyond Plant uses only?

  16. Thank you! Mark Jackson (M.Jackson@kew.org)