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Larry Speers - 996-1665 SPEERSL at NCCCOT.AGR.CA
Thu Oct 20 08:18:35 CDT 1994

The attached is a copy of the program and a brief report of the
Taxonomic Databases Working Group (TDWG) meeting at UNESCO
Headquarters, Paris Sept. 6, 1994 prepared by John McNeill the
meeting Chairman. I attended this meeting as the North American
regional representative for TDWG. The presentations at this
meeting clearly demonstrated that there has been rapid
advancement in the area of electronic access to biological
information. The presentations and discussion also emphasised
that there is an urgent need to develop the authority files, data
models, data transfer standards etc. that are necessary if our
rapidly expanding knowledge bases are going to be easily
accessible to both traditional and non-traditional clients. (See
the proposal for a Global Master Species Database in the report.)
Although there was concern expressed about the "health" of TWDG,
most participants indicated that they believed there is a
definite need for a coordinating group concerned with these
issues and that either a rejuvenated TWDG or another group with a
TWDG like mandate was necessary. This concern should be quickly
addressed by the TDWG executive.
      In its final business session, the IUBS General Assembly
approved the following resolution:-

Resolution No. 8 : Global Species List

The 25th IUBS General Assembly WELCOMES the progress made by a
large number of institutions and organizations in the compilation
of the scientific names of organisms, RECOGNIZES that such lists
are the crucial component of the communication system of
biodiversity, and ENCOURAGES the IUBS Executive to explore
mechanisms through its Scientific Programme by which a Master
Global Species List can be produced, as well as the nature of
such list in order to maximise its utility to biodiversity
scientists, policy-makers and other users.


Larry Speers
TDWG North American Regional Representative


Taxonomic Databases & Biodiversity

Report of a meeting organized by the Taxonomic Databases Working
Group (TDWG) in association with the 25th General Assembly of

An open meeting of the Taxonomic Databases Working Group (TDWG),
the IUBS Commission on Plant Taxonomic Databases, was held on 6
September 1994 during the 25th General Assembly of the
International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS) at the UNESCO
Headquarters, Paris. Some thirty or so delegates attended the
meeting (held coincidentally with one of the Panels of the main
Biodiversity Forum programme), at which, after an introduction by
the organizer, Dr Frank Bisby (Southampton, UK), presentations
were made on 7 biotaxonomic databases that are currently
operational or in an advanced planning stage (see attached

These presentations indicated that a number of existing
independent projects that have made substantial progress cover
viruses, bacteria, protists, molluscs, crustaceans, terrestrial
arthropods, birds, mammals, fungi, vascular plants and fossil
The meeting recognized the vital importance of a co-ordinated
programme for the development of taxonomic databases for all
groups of organisms, such that, even although projects for
individual groups will necessarily have different priorities and
be at different stages of development, common standards and the
facility for exchange of data would be ensured. The meeting
invited the Executive of TDWG to consider expanding its coverage
from plants to all groups of organisms.

The meeting agreed unanimously to propose that IUBS initiate a
major programme on Global Master Species Databases covering the
main groups of animals, plants and micro-organisms. In doing so,
it recognized the important leadership role of IUBS in ensuring a
unified approach to a global species database, but also took note
of the forthcoming meeting of CODATA (the ICSU Committee on Data
for Science and Technology) in Chamb
ry from 18-20 September, at
which the conclusions of this meeting would also be reported
through its Commission on Standardized Access to Biological Data
(STABD). Co-operation with other organizations and programmes
such as IUMS, DIVERSITAS, and the Standing Committee on
Biotaxonomy and Nomenclature would also be helpful.

The meeting asked a small task-force, comprising Prank Bisby,
Michael Boulter (London, UK), Annelise Pierrot-Bults (ETI,
Amsterdam), Larry Speers (Ottawa, Canada) and Chris Thompson
(Washington, USA), to carry forward this initiative. It is
considered that the most effective way forward is to recognize
the existing set of global master species databases and to
develop and promote these, and other potential participating
databases, to the point where at least minimal data (species,
nomenclature, and distribution) are available for all known taxa

John McNeill
Meeting Chairman

Taxonomic Databases & Biodiversity

A satellite meeting organised by TDWG, the IUBS Commission on
Taxonomic Databases

Tuesday 6 September 1994, 10.00 - 13.00

Meeting Room No. 4,
UNESCO Headquarters, 125 Avenue de Suffren, Paris 7

Chairman: Professor J McNeill

Meeting Organiser: Dr F A Bisby

10.00 Global master species databases and biodiversity: an
Frank A Bisby, University of Southampton.

10.20 Broadening TDWG: the parallels between plant, animal and
microbial taxonomic databases.
Larry Speers, Centre for Land & Biological Resources, Ottawa.

10.40 BIOTA: world arthropod checklist.
Christian A Thompson, Systematic Entomology Laboratory,
Smithsonian Institution.

11.00 The Plant Fossil Record IOP Database.
Mike C Boulter, University of East London.

11.20 ILDIS: an operational master species database for the
Frank A Bisby, University of Southampton.

11.40 The IOPI Global Plant Checklist Project
John Burnett, Oxford.

12.00 ETI: progress report.
Annelise Pierrot-Bults, ETI, Amsterdam.

12.15 DISCUSSION including proposals

i) that TDWG be extended to include plant, animal and microbial

ii) that IUBS include a major programme on Global Master Species
Databases in its Scientific Programme.

13.00 FINISH

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