Catalogue of Life: a Virtual Research Community to

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Catalogue of Life
a Virtual Research Community
to exchange data for enumerating
the extent of life on earth
Authors: Peter Schalk, Wouter Addink, Yuri Roskov
Authoritative index of valid names
Until 1996 no single authoritative index of valid names,
synonyms, common names was available. Then the
taxonomic community created the Catalogue of Life.
Medical information:
E.g. medicinal plants
Taxonomic dbs
Hierarchies, names
Biological collections:
(type) specimen
Historical data
Type strains
Ecological relations:
E.g. Food web structures
Host-parasite relations
Chemical substances:
Source species
Identification data:
Reference systems Legislation:
Image libraries:
Species protection Images, videos, sounds
Identification keys
Identification characters
What is the Catalogue of Life?
• an electronic synonymic species checklist
• a tightly integrated taxonomic hierarchy
• intended for all 1.9 M extant known species (and soon: fossils)
• both checklist and hierarchy are constructed from sectors
from many networked databases around the world
• Data is integrated using an international panel of experts
Species 2000, ITIS, and the Catalogue of Life
Species 2000 is a "federation" of database organisations working closely with
users, taxonomists and sponsoring agencies and established in 1996.
Goal is to create a taxonomic community-driven validated checklist of all the 1,9M
world's species (plants, animals, fungi and microbes) by bringing together an
array of global species databases covering each of the major groups of
organisms: The Catalogue of Life.
In June 2001 a partnership was established with the Integrated Taxonomic
Information system (ITIS) of North America.
The Catalogue of Life is based on a
distributed model and used by a growing
number of global, regional and national
projects as taxonomic backbone service.
40M hits / year;
40,000 unique users / month;
yearly 3,500 DVDs to 79
i4Life Virtual Community
In i4Life the CoL
provides an index to the
large biodiversity
projects and generates
feedback data (names)
to the underlying
Tools and Services for the Community
The Catalogue of Life provides a range of tools and services to
interact with the user community:
• A cross-mapping tool supports fast comparisons of
biodiversity databases against the CoL and reports on
similarities and differences.
• A Piping Tool funnels unlisted names back to the GSDs for
processing and updating.
• An extensive cross-mapping exercise with the major
biodiversity information resources (GBIF, EoL, IUCN, CBOL,
EBI-EMBL) promotes data harmonization in the community
and improves interoperability.
ICT Infrastructure
• Hosting in the Cloud at Naturalis for the core
systems (Assembly Workbench) and
• Distributed hosting of other services
(example: hosting the Cross-mapping service
at Cardiff University)
• SLA for all hosted services
• Improved automation in assembly
• Focus on providing the CoL integrated in
applications (more web-services and by
serving the CoL as linked open data)
Stability and Sustainability
Species 2000 has assured long term stability and sustainability
for the CoL through a hosting agreement with Naturalis
Biodiversity Center in The Netherlands, flanked by a long-term
sponsoring contract in the US.
The various task and responsibilities for the CoL are realized
through a distributed secretariat embedded in the global
taxonomic community.
More information
For more information on the Catalogue of Life and Species 2000 please visit the
website: or
Individual academic use of the CoL online services are free of charge.
If you prefer to receive the Annual Checklist on (free) DVD-ROM please email the
Species 2000 Secretariat: [email protected]
For joining the CoL Team or queries on submitting databases feel free to contact:
[email protected]
Questions about the governance or joining Species 2000 as a member:
[email protected] (Chairman Board of Directors)
Thank you for your attention!