A Rosetta stone *

We are building a meta-taxon profile and the means to use it to describe individual/given taxon profiles; and hence derive a general model of taxon/species profiles. We believe the means to encode meaning are essential for the use of information in novel contexts. And that this is important.

Our goal is to provide
  • an exchange standard for information about taxa
    • (as opposed to just for nomenclatural or identification information)
  • a means to translate and link information about taxa across disciplines
  • encode similar/common meaning to elements - where possible
This meta-profile-framework will incorporate sufficient formality that taxon related information from a variety of sources can be
  • presented in a formal-resolvable-interchange-linked-data standard
  • and read non-geeks in plain language

A quick guide


  • Anatomy of a Taxon Profile
  • DashBoards
Name Spaces


Wallace Core

  • Various example profiles? can be found in the taxa web. Here is a link to the Marine taxa web.
  • CreatingProfiles and UsingProfiles?
  • DashBoards?
  • Profiles mapped to WC meta profile?
  • Non technical Users guide?

About this Project

Application of the Framework

What are Taxon Profiles ?

Definition: structured information associated with a group of organisms that includes at least a name and other information deemed relevant. Typically such profiles contain a lot more than just nomenclatural or identifying information. See example contents of a profile listed below.

As a rule, biodiversity information is well structured. Typically, information is separately presented for each Taxon (typically species) of interest in a consistent, template like form. Sections may be identified by labels, or typographically (in written works), or via layout. Almost any kind of information relevant to the organisms under consideration may be included in a profile. In some form, all profiles include a name; most also include some nomenclature and identifying attributes.

Labels, terminology and meaning are generally consistent for a given group or work (be that monography or website). However, the organization and labeling of other information can be idiosyncratic using conventions and language particular to a given biological discipline. This presents challenges - particularly if work is to be used in applications outside its original context; and thus a challenge for projects which present biological information from many sources into new forms (e.g. aggregators such as the ALA; EOL).

A Nearly Canonical Form for a Profile

Though the labels, layout, and meaning vary, there is typically information regarding .....


  • Nomenclature

    • Name
    • typification
    • Synonyms
    • Classification

  • Phylogeny
  • description (in a circumscriptive sense)

    • Phenotype
    • genotype

  • Identification (to clarify)

    • confusing species
    • related species
    • Identification of sub taxa

  • Specimens (exemplifying the current taxon)

    • Specimens attributed to this taxon in other sources
    • Specimens examined
    • Notes on Specimens

  • Distribution

    • Observations
    • Population Distribution

  • Biology (Items not used for Circumscription)

    • Anatomy
    • Physiology
    • Genetics
    • Molecular
    • Behaviour (ethology)

  • Ecology

    • Associated species
    • Host Parasites
    • Population Structure

  • .... other (& diverse) information particular to the taxon under consideration
  • Notes
  • Citation

    • References
    • further Reading

  • Profile MetaData?

    • (Author/Publisher)

The Challenge

There is no agreed form of a Taxon (or species) profile. There is unlikely to ever be one 1,5.


The terminology and organization of taxonomic information differs with each Biological discipline. This is not just contingency. It is also well founded scientific necessity. The means of identification differs with different kinds of organisms; and different facts are of interest. There is also variation in the form of Species profiles for the same taxonomic groups. Authors interests vary as do the facts they have on hand. Frequently, different applications of terminology are also apparent. A consequence of history or differing scientific views and discipline specific vocabularies.


Other Sources

1; 2; 3; 5