Workshop on Taxonomic Authority Files

Steve Young Young.Steve at EPAMAIL.EPA.GOV
Fri May 15 12:34:50 CDT 1998

On 15 May 1998 Geoff Read < at> wrote:
>One example of a taxonomic authority compilation project is ITIS,
>Integrated Taxonomic Information System, for which the last internet
>Scout Report just gave a glowing promotion.
>It began:
>"Six federal agencies have worked together to develop an efficient system
>for naming and classifying all of nature's living organisms. ..."
>I received a polite points-noted form letter from the Scout people to
>my suggestion that this might be a slight distortion of reality ... there
>being a few predecessors who could claim some credit. :-)
> Geoff Read < at>

Point well taken.  The Scout Report's text, especially when pulled out of
context from the rest of the description, creates an unfortunate impression
of the aim of ITIS.  In fact, ITIS seeks to populate its database with
currently valid scientific names and classification of organisms, with a
primary focus on the organisms of North America and the marine environment.
The ITIS partners have no thought of inventing or taking credit for "an
efficient system for naming and classifying all of nature's living
organisms..."  ITIS is simply trying to help with the global task of
databasing the names and classifications, in order to meet the needs of USA
federal agencies and other partners. We make no claim to completeness, but
we are striving to improve the scope and scientific quality of coverage of
the database.

Also, ITIS is a participant in the Species2000 project, and the ITIS team
seeks to cooperate and collaborate with others who are interested in the
global challenge of getting valid names and classifications on-line for
open access.

The Scout Report text is found at:

We welcome visits to the ITIS website at:

and we encourage readers to use and comment on the database, which is
accessible through the website.

Please understand that the Scout Report's writer, not being intimately
familiar with taxonomy, didn't quite express the thought as one might have
wished.  Linnaeus et al. need not turn over in their graves.


     Steve Young
     U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
     Member, ITIS Steering Committee
     young.steve at

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