Biodiversity Information Science and Standards : Conference Abstract
Conference Abstract
Synospecies, an application to reflect changes in taxonomic names based on a triple store based on taxonomic data liberated from publication
expand article infoReto Gmür, Donat Agosti§
‡ Factsmission, Biel, Switzerland
§ Plazi, Bern, Switzerland
Open Access


Taxonomic treatments, sections of publications documenting the features or distribution of a related group of organisms (called a “taxon”, plural “taxa”) in ways adhering to highly formalized conventions, and published in scientific journals, shape our understanding of global biodiversity (Catapano 2019).

Treatments are the building blocks of the evolving scientific consensus on taxonomic entities. The semantics of these treatments and their relationships are highly structured: taxa are introduced, merged, made obsolete, split, renamed, associated with specimens and so on. Plazi makes this content available in machine-readable form using Resource Description Framework (RDF) . RDF is the standard model for Linked Data and the Semantic Web. RDF can be exchanged in different formats (aka concrete syntaxes) such as RDF/XML or Turtle. The data model describes graph structures and relies on Internationalized Resource Identifiers (IRIs) , ontologies such as Darwin Core basic vocabulary are used to assign meaning to the identifiers. For Synospecies, we unite all treatments into one large knowledge graph, modelling taxonomic knowledge and its evolution with complete references to quotable treatments. However, this knowledge graph expresses much more than any individual treatment could convey because every referenced entity is linked to every other relevant treatment. On, we provide a user-friendly interface to find the names and treatments related to a taxon. An advanced mode allows execution of queries using the SPARQL query language.


biodiversity, RDF, knowledge graph, treatment citation, ontology, Linked Data, SPARQL

Presenting author

Reto Gmür

Presented at

TDWG 2021

Funding program

The Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library (BiCIKL) project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Action under grant agreement No 101007492.