TDWG Subgroup on Accession Data

Convener's Report 3 - October 30, 1997

Over the past year, the "Reference List of Standards, Information Models, and Data Dictionaries for Biological Collections" has been steadily improved and updated regularly. However, relatively little discussion took place on the other issues raised in the last Convener's report. In preparation for the forthcoming TDWG meeting in Taipeh, this report will highlight some details on several ongoing initiatives in the field of biological collections and related comments made by Accession Subgroup members.

HISPID 3 (Herbarium Information Standards and Protocols for Interchange of Data ver. 3.0)

This data-dictionary like standard was provisionally endorsed during the TDWG meeting in Toronto as a standard to exchange herbarium specimen records. Version 3.0 has been published (see Conn 1996 under "Exchange Standards" in the Reference List). A "very first draft" of HISPID 3.1 (some changes still waiting to be included) is also available: (uncompressed, compressed with pkzip). The WWW-site of the Australian "Herbarium Information Systems Committee" should now again be accessible.

The problems caused by the flat file format of HISPID etc. have been discussed in the 2nd Convener's report and may be summarized in contributions from subgroup members (Savov, Blum, Hagedorn, and Savov).


The second version of the International Transfer Format for Botanic Gardens Plant Records (ITF-2, Botanic Gardens Conservation International) has been co-ordinated with HISPID 3 and it has been endorsed by the Toronto meeting of TDWG. ITF2 is compatible with HISPID3 so that institutions combining a botanical gardens with a herbarium can draw on both standards.

The Database Schema Library project

The Database Schema Library project is an exiting new project which mirrors the technological progress as well as our much-increased knowledge about information structures in natural history collections. The library builds on the original ASC model developed in 1992 to develop a reference model which may at some time be used to access biological collection data stored in a wide variety of databases. This may be the approach to standardize accession data which was called for by many of the subgroup members. Quoting Stan Blum: "The purpose of the Library of Information Models for Biological Collections is to present and document a reference model for biological collections, and record alternative models derived from or related to this reference model. The Library will promote the reuse and sharing of models (schemas) with the goal of reducing the time and complexity of the schema design process. A scientist developing a new schema will be able to browse the Library and start from the reference or alternative schema designs, and thus make use of the experience gained in developing other schemas. Furthermore, the Library will aid the development of software for interconnecting multiple biological collections databases (BCDs) and eventually help scientists to specify queries across multiple BCDs."

At present the project does not include living collections nor observations (information with time, place, etc. but without a specimen) but inclusion at a later date is envisioned. Several "Local Schemata" are currently being converted to OPM to demonstrate the library approach. The CDEFD-Model for biological collections will also be added as one of the alternative schema designs. It includes living collections and observations and it is used as a reference model for the BioCISE project.


Based on the results of the CDEFD project, the EU-funded project "Resources development for a Biological Collection Information Service in Europe (BIOCISE, coordinator: W. Berendsohn) has the mission to publish a catalogue and classify European collection databases, identify European expertise in biodiversity informatics (companies, people, institutions with experience in implementing biological collection information systems) and (finally) to form a consortium and prepare a funding proposal for a project to implement a Biological Collection Information Service in Europe. This is to be achieved in cooperation with existing national initiatives within the EU. BioCISE project members will also evaluate the possibilities for trans-atlantic cooperation with the Database Schema Library project and the use of the Schema Library approach for European collections.

Further topics for Discussion (contributions invited):

To index page. Contact: Walter G. Berendsohn, subgroup convener, This page last updated October 30, 1997 (HISCOM link: Nov. 27, 1997).