[Taxacom] ITIS, Species 2000, etc.

Edwards, G.B. edwardg at doacs.state.fl.us
Wed May 30 09:45:44 CDT 2007

I appreciate the comments of Anna, Mary, Rich, Rod and others on this
subject, and the information links provided, but in many cases, those
are for the one organization each is most associated with.  Not that
this isn't useful, but...

Seems to me what we need is an Encyclopedia of Taxonomic Initiatives (or
maybe a Reader's Digest Version) which would give us the acronym or
title, what it means, what it's purpose is, where it's located, and who
it's contact people are (see those listed below plus a "whole host of
other initiatives", many of which have come up in subsequent
discussions).  Also needed is a glossary of acronyms used within each
organization.  Obviously people who are already involved know what these
initiatives are, but I suspect there are many others who might want to
be involved in something, but don't want to wade through looking up the
specs for a bunch of organizations to find one that seems to fit what
they would be willing to do.  Not to mention how helpful it would be to
know the most appropriate place to go for a particular type of taxonomic
information, or to find out that there actually is an organization that
databases some obscure group.  Yes, you can Google, but then you're
still wading through thousands of responses, and you'll probably miss
some of the initiatives.  There are just too many for any one person to
keep track of.
How about if the organizers of every initiative send in their
information to a central website which can then be made available to
everyone (offers to host?).  Maybe some of the paralysis will be lifted
if people know what their options are.  Might bring some of those
private collections into the fold.  Might even be a good start to
organizing the taxonomic community.
G. B. Edwards
Florida State Collection of Arthropods

...One of the goals of the Encyclopedia of Life is to work with groups
uBio, GBIF, ITIS, Species2000, IPNI, Index Fungorum, ZooBank, BHL, and a
whole host of other initiatives who deal with taxonomic names to
what David Remsen of GBIF calls the "BIG Index" (I'll defer to David for
elaboration of the name).  This would be a giant index of these "usage
instances", or the "facts" of taxonomy, as I defined them above (e.g.,
Smith, 2001, treated "Aus xus" as a junior synonym of "Aus bus").
such a comprehensive index is a monumental task, far outside the scope
any single initiative like ITIS or Species2000 or most of the others.
it's not outside the scope of the collective taxonomic community as a
which is why ideas like All Species, GBIF's ECAT, and EoL (the latter
the most robustly funded) are so fundamentally important to serve as a
pole" around which we can all congregate and coordinate our efforts.

I share your feeling that paralysis is the usual response. What  
continually astounds me is how little people are aware of the  
groundwork that already exists. Most of the issues (GUIDs, generating  
identifiers, searching based on journal metadata) have already been  
solved, in some cases (SICIs, OpenURL) a decade ago.

More information about the Taxacom mailing list