Yesterday Arlin Stoltzfus organized a kickoff meeting for the project that got funded by NSF this year - “Collaborative Research: ABI Development: An open infrastructure to disseminate phylogenetic knowledge”. Global Names is participating in project and I believe it will be an interesting ride.
The idea behind is pretty cool. Imagine that someone works on a group of organisms. They submit names of the organisms to a service and the service builds a phylogenetic tree out of the names. When tree is created it will start its own life similar to a repo on Github. People will be able to reuse it, annotate it for their own purposes, create derivative trees. It would be a pretty nice feature for Encyclopedia of Life to see how species belonging to a particular clade are related to each other through phylogeny. One problem with creation of such trees is name normalization. Scientific names can have many alternative spellings, so to find phylo-information we will need to be able to map names from user list to names which are recognized by the service.
I suspect that a crossmapping tool I am working on this week might be adjusted for this particular task, but as usual – the devil is in details and we will find out the requirements during the design process.