Hi Tony & John
I've been using the IOC list as the basis for my birding database for
several years now. As Tony has said, it's handy to have a system that
can cope with the taxonomic flux that we find ourselves in these days.
My solution has been to allocate a unique reference to each entry to
help track each taxon should it be demoted to a subspecies (or even
re-promoted to species). This also requires a unique reference for the
family & for the order, which I then apply to each taxon after each IOC
release. The unique reference is assigned as new taxons are found from a
incremental counter (and thus can be extended without worry), the
taxonomic sequence is obtained via the order & family values. I have
suggested to Frank Gill that something similar to the unique reference
is used for tracking in the IOC list to make changes easier to identify.
If you have a database containing many years of sightings and the
vernacular and/or scientific name changes, it makes life interesting to
try to update your database without such a feature, which for many of us
is the reason behind moving to an internationally accepted list such as
To achieve this, I re-process the IOC list to pad it with the details of
order & family on each line of the Master list, splitting the genus &
the specific in the scientific name, match this to my existing data to
produce a new edition. I have written various database scripts to take
the grunt out of the processing, but there is still a little manual
intervention required for mismatches.
For my own purposes, I have added some distinctive subspecies (which are
only in Clements' list currently - V3 IOC notwithstanding), and also
various odds & ends like the occasional hybrid or invalid taxon.
I'm happy to share this should anyone be interested.
On 12/04/2011 04:59, Tony Keene wrote:
Funnily enough, I had a go at this idea a while back. I used the (then
current) IOC list and assigned each family a two-letter code and then each
species a five-number code. This meant that unless you had more than one
hundred subspecies, you'd never run out of numbers. I wanted to do this so that
even every subspecies had a number (and also ssp. that were dubious had one)
and even given lumps, splits, changes of genera, family and species names and
also English names, the number remained constant. The other advantage was that
it worked in different languages with different taxonomic standards.
I got as far as writing the idea up and assigning letter codes for all
familes and number codes for a few thousand species (and one or two sets of
subspecies), but never had time to carry it on.
I did have a nice email conversation with Frank Gill about it and he said
another group was looking into a similar project.
If anyone is interested, I can send on a copy of the (old) list and the
write-up on how it works.