Prometheus II: Capturing and Relating Character Concept Definitions in Plant Taxonomy

01/02/2001 - 30/06/2004

Taxonomy has been described as “the science of documenting biodiversity”, which involves collecting, naming, describing, identifying and classifying specimens of organisms. Descriptions are the fundamental information units used in the process of constructing classifications and communicating taxonomic concepts. The quality of stored description data is limited by the lack of a formal model and methodology for composing specimen descriptions, and by the absence of an agreed defined terminology. This impedes the communication, interpretation and reuse of original descriptions. Prometheus is developing a novel approach to composing and recording taxonomic descriptions of botanical specimens. An underlying model for creating character descriptions has been developed together with a process for creating an ontology of defined terms, which will be used to compose these description elements. It is hoped that these developments will facilitate the unambiguous interpretation of descriptions and enhance the taxonomic process.
Prometheus II: Capturing and Relating Character Concept Definitions in Plant Taxonomy is a Research Councils project funded by BBSRC. Carried out in collaboration with Martin R. Pullan, Mark Watson and others. For further information please refer to
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  • Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
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Project Team

Alan Cannon
Research Fellow
+44 131 455 2437
Dr Trevor Paterson
(not currently an institute member)
Gordon Russell
Senior Lecturer
+44 131 455 2754
Jessie Kennedy
Dean of Research and Innovation
+44 131 455 2772
Dr Cedric Raguenaud
(not currently an institute member)

Associated Publications

Pullan, M.R., Armstrong, K., Paterson, T., Cannon, A., Kennedy, J. (2005). The Prometheus Description Model: An examination of the taxonomic description building process and its representation. Taxon, 54, (3), 751-765.

Cannon, A., Kennedy, J., Paterson, T., Watson, M. (2004). Ontology-Driven Automated Generation Of Data Entry Interfaces. In: Williams, H., Mackinnon, L. (Eds.) Key Technologies for Data Management (Proc. BNCOD21): Lecture Notes in Computer Science 3112, , () ( ed.). (pp. 150-164). : . Springer-Verlag.

Paterson, T., Kennedy, J., Pullan, M.R., Cannon, A., Armstrong, K., Watson, M., Raguenaud, C., McDonald, S., Russell, G. (2004). A Universal Character Model and Ontology of Defined Terms for Taxonomic Description. In: Rahm, E. (Ed.) Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics: Proceedings of Data Integration in the Life Sciences (DILS) Leipzig 2004, LNBI 2994, () (LNBI 2994 ed.). (pp. 63-78). : . Springer-Verlag.

Paterson, T., Kennedy, J. (2004). Approaches to Storing and Querying Structural Information in Botanical Specimen Descriptions. In: MacKinnon, L.M., Burger, A.G., Trinder, P.W. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 21st Annual British National Conference on Databases (BNCOD21), , () ( ed.). (pp. 80-91). Edinburgh: . Heriot-Watt University.

Paterson, T., Cannon, A., Raguenaud, C., Russell, G., Armstrong, K., MacDonald, S., Pullan, M.R., Watson, M., Kennedy, J. (2003). A Methodology for Composing Well-Defined Character Descriptions. Unpublished, (), ..