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Taxonomic Comparator
Updated Dec 3, 2009 by


The objective of this page is to outline the functionality of a taxonomic comparator process that takes as input two or more taxonomic checklists and performs a series of evaluations to assess areas of overlap and distinction.


Several comparators have been developed in the past.

  • Crispen Wilson demonstrated a taxonomic comparator in 2005 to uBio
  • Jessie Kennedy and Martin Graham demonstrated a taxonomic comparator at TDWG 2007 in St. Louis
  • Burke Chih-Jen Ko demonstrated a comparator tool to GBIF at a recent meeting in Taipei


Taxonomic comparators analyse two or more taxonomic checklists and, depending upon the detail of the source data, perform a series of evaluations.

This includes

Comparison of included taxa:

  • For a given taxon, the evaluation summarises the absolute number of included taxa for each classification
  • The degree of concordance between each classification
  • The degree of distinction within each classification
  • Evaluates if included taxa that do not appear within the sibling taxon in the second classification, appear elsewhere in the classification
  • A comparison function should be able to identify related taxon groups based on overlapping membership and not rely simply on higher taxon names.
    • For example Classification A might refer to the Gramminae while Classification B refers to the Poaceae yet the two groups include a majority of identical child taxa.

Reconciliation of nomenclature

In some cases the same nominal taxon may be treated in different classifications under different nomenclatural forms. For example, Classification A may refer to a taxon as Pternistes afer (Müller) while Classification B may refer to a taxon as Francolinus after (Müller). A reconciled comparator should be able to identify these two forms as belonging to the same taxon. This functionality benefits from access to nomenclatural authority data and is a recognized use case for the Global Names Usage Bank.

Reconciliation of circumscription

In cases where taxonomic data sources provide synonymy in addition to a list of accepted/valid species, additional evaluations can be performed on the names included within the taxon concept. This can improve the overall assessment.


Browsing interfaces

Multiple panels - One interface presents parallel panels in which different classifications can be loaded. One classification constitutes the Reference Taxonomy and one or more constitute Target Taxonomies. A browse interface provides navigation through the Reference Taxonomy. Corresponding taxa

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