People use the vernacular AND taxonomic names of species in everyday speech and writing - just read or watch any populist gardening magazine or television programme.
Consider this list: "Blackbird", "poodle", "T Rex", "potato", "French Marigold", "Wisteria", "E. Coli", "HIV", "Rubella" and "human being".
"T Rex" is "Tyrannosaurus rex"; "E. Coli" is "Escherichia coli"; "HIV" is "Human immunodeficiency virus" and "Rubella" is "Rubella virus". All are the taxonomic (or scientific) names of unique species.
"Wisteria" is a taxonomic genus.
"Blackbird"; "poodle"; "potato"; "French Marigold" and "human being" (arguments about Neanderthals not withstanding) are vernacular (or common) names, but still refer to individual species.
Imagine viewing a web page with a reference to a species - and being able to use an add-on to you browser to be taken directly to information about that species, on, say, Wikipedia, or Wikispecies, or Google Images, or another site, such as in an academic database, of your choosing.
Your software would automatically know to search site A of the scientific name referred to a moth, site B for a bird, and site C for a plant - and you could set your preferences as to which sites those were to be, and in which order two or more were to be searched (e.g. for moths, try UK Moths first, if not found try The Global Lepidoptera Names Index).
Or supposing someone writes a long, chronologically-ordered web page about all the birds, insects, mammals and plants they saw on a wildlife safari, with lots of prose description about the paces where they saw them and the people they were with, but you want to extract a list of species, sorted into alphabetical order within taxonomic class (birds first, then insects then...) or in taxonomic order.
Those are just two of the things a "species" microformat might do for you.
The proposal respects all existing biological taxonomies, and is not intended to change or supplant any of them - it is intended merely to provide webmasters with a method of either:
- marking-up a taxonomical name (or taxon-common name pair) in such a way that its components can be recognised by computers or
- marking up a common name, so as to associative with it a taxonomical name, in such a way that the latter's components can be recognised by computers
Embedding within other microformats
The proposed plant microformat (with care regime, supplier, etc.), hListing draft or hReview 0.4 (in progress) (and possibly others) could contain a scientific name microformat, in the same way that an hCalendar 1.0 can contain an hCard 1.0.
- Wikipedia: Scientific classification
- http://www.iczn.org/ International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature
- International Code of Botanical Nomenclature
- RHS Plant Finder: The naming of plants
- International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants
- Taxonomic Databases Working Group
- Hortax - The Names of Garden Plants
- Wiktionary: Taxonomy
Here's some work-in-progress: