12-Nov-2008 03:06 Age: 10 yrs

Chairman's Message

By: Donald Hobern

Dear TDWG members and friends,

The TDWG Conference 2008 took place in Fremantle a couple of weeks ago. I would like to thank all those who took the time to travel to this remote location and those who contributed to the success of the largest TDWG meeting yet.

Here are some of the significant issues from the meeting, including some I addressed in my opening presentation (http://www.tdwg.org/fileadmin/2008conference/slides/Hobern_01_02_LookingBackwardAndForward.swf). 

I urge you to consider ways that you can contribute to at least one of these issues in the coming year.

Standards process

Over the next couple of months TDWG will issue calls for public comment on a number of proposed TDWG standards: the Natural Collections Descriptions (NCD) schema, Darwin Core, TAPIR and the TDWG LSID applicability statement.  It is a priority to publish these standards.  As the calls are issued, we would greatly appreciate your comments on the proposals.

Architecture, ontology, etc.

Over the last few years, TDWG has put much effort into a new and more flexible architecture for its data standards. The new architecture is based on the use of a shared ontology for integration of biodiversity data, globally unique identifiers (particularly LSIDs) and a standard representation of the ontology properties in RDF and XML.  This approach promises greater simplicity for new communities to share their data using TDWG standards and for developers to create general purpose tools to generate and consume biodiversity data.  Unfortunately we have not yet completed this work. TDWG remains at a mid-point between the various XML data models created over the last few years and this ontology (semantic web)-driven approach.  We believe that TDWG must focus this year on completing this work. 

During the conference, Annie Simpson pointed out some of the difficulties which have been faced by the Global Invasive Species Information Network (GISIN) using TDWG data standards for the exchange of information related to invasive species.  None of GISIN’s requirements are particularly complex but we do not have a simple cookbook and tools to allow such a community to set up their data exchange in a simple fashion. 

I propose that we make it TDWG’s goal in 2009 to complete its work on the high-level TDWG ontology along with associated tools and best practices, and to use the GISIN requirements as a practical use case for the requirements we need to satisfy.

Roger Hyam has chosen to step down from his role as convenor of the Technical Architecture Group and Greg Whitbread has agreed to take his place.  Markus Döring will be leading work on the TDWG ontology and Kevin Richards will do the same for use of LSIDs with TDWG standards.  Several projects have already indicated that they need a working ontology for data integration as soon as possible. We plan to drive this activity forward with the aim of being able to offer clear recommendations by the TDWG Conference in 2009. 

I would urge all those who have an interest in this activity to contribute through the TAG wiki and mailing list over the coming months.


The e-Biosphere conference (http://www.e-biosphere09.org/) will be held in London in June 2009 and aims to serve as a showcase for biodiversity informatics.  TDWG’s involvement in e-Biosphere was discussed at the TDWG Conference. The cost for non-commercial exhibitors such as TDWG will be GBP 300 for a 2m x 2m booth or GBP 400 for a 2m x 3m booth.  There are also opportunities for groups to hold side events associated with the conference on the afternoon of Wednesday 3 June.

We intend to take advantage of these opportunities by having a TDWG booth and also organising a side event.  We would therefore like to know of any TDWG members who expect to attend e-Biosphere and who may be able to help out with staffing the booth during breaks and during the sessions in the programme allocated for the “Street Fair”.  We are also interested in any suggestions for materials, posters or demonstrations for presentation at the conference, and in specific ideas for a TDWG side event.

TDWG’s name

Over the last couple of years we have discussed possible changes to TDWG’s name to reflect the fact that our mission is much wider than “taxonomy” or “databases”.  Despite these difficulties, the name “TDWG” is well known through our community and none of the suggested alternatives seems fully appropriate or memorable.  For this reason TDWG will continue to be known as “TDWG”, although we will not be spelling this out as “Taxonomic Databases Working Group” and will often refer to the organisation as “TDWG (the international organisation for biodiversity information standards)”.

Best wishes,

Donald Hobern, Director, Atlas of Living Australia
CSIRO Entomology, GPO Box 1700, Canberra, ACT 2601
Phone: (02) 62464352 Mobile: 0437990208
Email: Donald.Hobern@csiro.au
: http://www.ala.org.au/


  Last Modified: 18 February 2009