Thu Aug 31 13:41:12 CDT 1995

Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 12:45:46 -0600
From:Trudy_Harlow at nbs.gov
To: C7GAP at ttacs.ttu.edu

For Release: August 30, 1995
Contact: Anne Frondorf (202) 482-3980
or Jamise Liddell (202) 482-3048

National Biological Service and the Association of
Systematics Collections Create Electronic
Directories for Taxonomic Information

    Dr. H. Ronald Pulliam, National Biological Service (NBS) director, today
announced that the NBS has signed a cooperative agreement with the Association
of Systematics Collections (ASC) to develop two directories of resource
information: one on taxonomists and their areas of expertise, and another on
natural history collections.  Both of these directories will be accessible on
the Internet, through the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII).
    "These two directories on taxonomic information will be extremely important
and useful, not only to the scientific community, but to anyone interested in
learning more about the natural history of North America," noted Dr. Pulliam.
    "We are pleased to join the Association of Systematics Collections to help
make this important information more accessible. This is a crucial scientific
    In the field of biology, taxonomy is the scientific field in which related
organisms are grouped together based on their characteristics.  Understanding
how different groups of organisms are related to and differ from one another is
the foundation for studying and understanding all the other aspects of biology
and ecology.
    The directory of taxonomists will also help identify biological groups for
which specialists are lacking and where training or retraining efforts could
fill significant gaps in expertise.
    The natural history collections directory will be based on a comprehensive
survey of the research systematics collections found in the U.S. and Canada.
This directory will provide valuable information on each collection including:
the contents and biological groups represented, institutional and management
information, and the status of the automation and electronic accessibility of
the specimen information.  When completed, the directory on the Internet will
include direct "hot links" to individual collections which already have data
and information products available electronically.
    An important objective of this agreement is for ASC and NBS to identify
additional measures to help automate information about significant museum
collections that may be only available in paper files, and to foster an
electronic network of natural history collections information, i.e., a "virtual
    The Association of Systematics Collections is an international non-profit
organization that works to support the use, preservation, and improvement of
systematics collections. Membership includes freestanding natural history
museums and botanical gardens, research institutions, university museums and
collections, and State biological surveys.
    "This project directly supports our objective to work with other agencies
and organizations to make good biological data and information more available
to people who need it," explained Dr. Pulliam.
    In 1994, ASC signed a memorandum of understanding with the NBS, agreeing to
coordinate and cooperate on efforts to promote better understanding and
conservation of biological diversity.  To that end, the electronic directories
project is one of the many major endeavors on which the two organizations will
    The National Biological Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior
works with others to provide the scientific understanding and technologies
needed to support the sound management and conservation of our Nation's
biological resources.  The National Biological Information Infrastructure is an
initiative of the NBS to foster the development of a distributed electronic
network of biological data and information maintained by a variety of Federal
and State government agencies, universities, museums, libraries, and private
organizations.  The NBII is available on the Internet at ttp://www.nbs.gov/nbii/


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