Future Aspects

The German Science Foundation was worried initially about the increasing number of independent small databases without interconnection that appeared to be "island solutions." Each database is focused on the specific interests of the responsible

Fig. 4.3 Frequency distribution of ammonoid species per million years (Ma.) in the late Carboniferous (between 318 and 288Ma). Abbreviations: C = Frequency of species, D = Frequency of species crossing top of interval, E = number of available outcrops, for comparison of local availability. YLB: Yeadonian-Langsettian boundary; MKB: Moscovian-Kasimovian boundary; CPB: Carboniferous-Permian boundary. Radiometric timescale as used in GONIAT version 3.0 (From Kullmann, 2002).

Fig. 4.3 Frequency distribution of ammonoid species per million years (Ma.) in the late Carboniferous (between 318 and 288Ma). Abbreviations: C = Frequency of species, D = Frequency of species crossing top of interval, E = number of available outcrops, for comparison of local availability. YLB: Yeadonian-Langsettian boundary; MKB: Moscovian-Kasimovian boundary; CPB: Carboniferous-Permian boundary. Radiometric timescale as used in GONIAT version 3.0 (From Kullmann, 2002).

research group. Such databases are autonomous in the sense that they are completely under the control of the responsible group. Different opinions tend to lead to different concepts of the underlying knowledge.

For some time it was hoped to encourage other scientific groups to consider the possibility of interfacing GONIAT with other databases. The time-planes and the localities would be often identical in such databases. An attempt was made to relate the American conodont database set up by Sandberg and Ziegler, with GONIAT, but this database was not advanced enough.

In the long run, a uniform paleontological database could be accomplished along the following lines. The problem of integrating heterogeneous information is presently addressed in computer science research. Computer scientists have assured us that it is possible to work out an integrated access to distributed heterogeneous paleontological databases (P. S. Kullmann and J. Kullmann, 2002). The objective of "Intelligence Information Integration" is to find solutions for supplying uniform access to various heterogeneous and possibly broadly distributed information systems (see Fig. 4.4).

A widely accepted approach is the so-called mediator architecture (Gruber, 1995), which uses a software component that is dedicated to the processing of user queries with respect to a set of information sources. Without doubt, it would be desirable to have a uniform and consistent conceptual basis available that facilitates uniform access to all information systems. The consequences of integrated access for paleontological research could be a great improvement in the precision of biostratigraphic statements. The combination of the currently scattered information

Fig. 4.4 Scheme of the mediator architecture (From Kullmann and Kullmann, 2002).

would yield new insights into the major open questions of palaeogeographic relations, such as configuration of oceans, climatic distribution, and variation.

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