We present the model and implementation of a workflow that blazes a trail in systematic biology for the re-usability of character data (data on any kind of characters of pheno- and genotypes of organisms) and their additivity from specimen to taxon level. We take into account that any taxon characterization is based on a limited set of sampled individuals and characters, and that consequently any new individual and any new character may affect the recognition of biological entities and/or the subsequent delimitation and characterization of a taxon. Taxon concepts thus frequently change during the knowledge generation process in systematic biology. Structured character data are therefore not only needed for the knowledge generation process but also for easily adapting characterizations of taxa. We aim to facilitate the construction and reproducibility of taxon characterizations from structured character data of changing sample sets by establishing a stable and unambiguous association between each sampled individual and the data processed from it. Our workflow implementation uses the European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy Platform, a comprehensive taxonomic data management and publication environment to: (i) establish a reproducible connection between sampled individuals and all samples derived from them; (ii) stably link sample-based character data with the metadata of the respective samples; (iii) record and store structured specimen-based character data in formats allowing data exchange; (iv) reversibly assign sample metadata and character datasets to taxa in an editable classification and display them and (v) organize data exchange via standard exchange formats and enable the link between the character datasets and samples in research collections, ensuring high visibility and instant re-usability of the data. The workflow implemented will contribute to organizing the interface between phylogenetic analysis and revisionary taxonomic or monographic work.
Database URL: http://campanula.e-taxonomy.net/