Sunday, March 23, 2014

How about a #Cactus, it is prickly

The #nomenclature of species has its history. Understanding it takes an effort. The family of the Cactaceae is a nice one to show some of the problems involved.

The latest update of the Reasonator copes with one problem that you will find in Wikidata. What is meant by Cactaceae has changed over time. There are four "parent taxons" for this family and, Reasonator will now only show the preferred one. This limits the list of higher order taxons a lot because all these parent taxons have their own parent taxons.

The problem is that lower level taxons end up all being part of the same family of the Cactaceae. Technically all these lower level taxons are "valid". What is understood by the family differs greatly and showing the preferred parent taxon is the best we can do.

Old descriptions like Cactus ficus-indica exist in Wikidata. You will appreciate that the old gets merged with the new. For you and me, it has always been a "prickly pear".

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