NBS JOINS ITIS
Trudy_Harlow at NBS.GOV
Mon Oct 30 14:22:42 CST 1995
For Immediate Release Contact: Anne Frondorf (202) 482-3980
October 30, 1995 Trudy Harlow (202) 482-3048
National Biological Service Supports New Database on Plants and Animals of North
National Biological Service Director H. Ronald Pulliam announced that the
NBS has agreed to cooperate with five other federal agencies in developing and
supporting a new national database on the plants and animals of North America.
The database, known as the Interagency Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), will
provide for the first time a standardized source of information on the
scientific names and synonyms, common names, and information about origin and
general distribution of all biological species occurring in North America and
adjacent waters. The database will be accessible on the Internet this fall
through the National Biological Information Infrastructure.
"NBS is enthusiastic about collaborating in this partnership to provide a
key to better understanding the natural heritage of our nation," noted Dr.
Pulliam. "This is truly a cooperative effort which will involve hundreds of
scientists in universities and museums across the country. The system will save
dollars for the taxpayers by providing a standard reference for the government,
for the scientific community, and for the interested public to share in and use.
It will be like the famous Rosetta Stone, providing an accurate standard or
reference for translation of scientific names of organisms."
Taxonomy is the science of classifying or grouping related organisms to show
the evolutionary relationships among them. Knowledge of these relationships is
at the core of all other biological and ecological research. An ancient Chinese
proverb says that "the beginning of wisdom starts with calling things by their
right names." Taxonomy thus provides a common language for all scientists
working in the discipline of biology.
The six initial cooperating agencies include the NBS, Natural Resources
Conservation Service, Agricultural Research Service, National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Environmental
Protection Agency. The Smithsonian Institution is also cooperating in the
development of the ITIS database.
Each of these agencies has a continuing need to use scientifically accurate
information about the taxonomy of species they study or manage. By cooperating
to develop and serve this standardized database, they will save money, increase
the sharing of data between agencies, and provide a valuable source of
information for state resource agencies, museums, private groups, and the
interested public. Several other federal agencies have also expressed their
interest in cooperating in the program.
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
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 currently available on the World Wide Web at http://www.nbs.gov/nbii/ and the
ITIS database will be accessible from it. Direct WWW access to the ITIS home
page scheduled for later this winter will be at http://www.itis.usda.gov
More information about the Taxacom