[Taxacom] Species Pages - where are the online descriptions?

Fewless, Gary fewlessg at uwgb.edu
Sun Feb 1 14:17:25 CST 2009

For Wisconsin, the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has produced a website "The Trees of Wisconsin", with lists of all trees growing in Wisconsin outside of cultivation and keys to identify them, supported by individual species pages with an emphasis on photographs illustrating diganostic characters.  For example
http://www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/herbarium/trees/Aceneg01.htm or

Not all species have been treated thoroughly, and all could benefit from more effort, but this illustrates the process intended.  As others have pointed out, providing useful text in support of the images is very time-consuming, and lags behind for some of the species.  The target audience includes botany students and field workers as well as the broader community interested in the native and naturalized trees of Wisconsin. I have resisted repeating text that is available elsewhere.  With full access to the text of "Flora of North America" available on the web (eventually), I see no reason to simply repeat the descriptive portion.  

A similar website has been prepared for "Ferns of Wisconsin", 
The illustrated glossary and "introduction to ferns and fern allies"
http://www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/herbarium/pteridophytes/fern_intro01.htm have been very successful for instructional purposes.

Links to these and other similar pages (under construction) on the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity web site can be accessed from:


Gary Fewless
Cofrin Center for Biodiversity
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Susan Meades [sjmeades at sympatico.ca]
Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2009 9:16 AM
To: Roger Hyam; Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Species Pages - where are the online descriptions?

Hi Roger,

For northern Ontario, we've put together a website that includes species
pages for a select number of forest vascular plant species.  Although the
main purpose of the Northern Ontario Plant Dabase was to make information on
herbarium specimens from northern Ontario institutions available free
online, our original funding included provisions for 60 some species pages
to be written.  Over the past 3 years, I have added pages as my time permits
and we now have 127 descriptions posted, with 2 more (Toxicodendron
rydbergii and Rosa acicularis) to be added this week.  Click on the
thumbnails for larger images:
http://www.northernontarioflora.ca/desclist.cfm - description pages

For nomenclatural information and herbarium specimens information on species
in our region, select a species through the alphabetical family or genus
list at the left.  For species that I haven't developed decriptive pages, we
link to other websites with good images or descriptions.

In the links section of the website (on top button bar), you can access many
websites with great images and some descriptive information, like
Missouriplants.com, Illinois Wildflowers, Saskatchewan Native
Plants/Wildflower.  These are primarily labours of love by talented
amateurs.  There are also links to sites by botanical institutions, such as
the Flora of North America's e-flora.org site
http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=1 and WTU Image Collection:
Plants of Washington
maintained by the Univ. of Washington Herbarium.  Another excellent site
that I just discovered recently is the Oregon Flora Project:
and the Oregon Flora Image Project:
http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/FACULTY/CARR/ofp/ofp_index.htm, this isn't
listed yet in our links, but will be added shortly.

Mary's points are right on.  If we all had unlimited time and funding, there
would be a lot more descriptive information available on the web.

Sue Meades
Northern Ontario Plant Database

----- Original Message -----
From: "Roger Hyam" <rogerhyam at mac.com>
To: <Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2009 5:58 AM
Subject: [Taxacom] Species Pages - where are the online descriptions?

> Hi,
> I am looking for websites that have good "Species Pages". By species
> page I mean (and this is my definition) a page that contains a
> description of the species and not a page that simply lists the
> nomenclature associated with the acceptance of a name. You could send
> the URL of a species page to a student who didn't know what the
> organism was and they could use it to confirm the identity of a
> specimen.
> An example of what I think of as a species page is  the Fishbase page
> for Gadus morhua (Atlantic Cod):
> http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=69
> There is a lot of information on this page and a description of the
> organism can be gleaned from it.
> This FloraBase page is another example:
> http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/26
> Very brief but attempts to define the taxon.
> Wikipedia has a good page for cod but there isn't a good taxon
> description so it is a borderline species page
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gadus_morhua
> Catalogue of Life has a goal of producing a page for every species and
> it aims to do this by combining pre-existing data I believe but I
> wonder where this data is.
> Their page on badger comes from Arkive (http://www.arkive.org/) which
> is an imaging database http://eol.org/pages/328046 and their page on
> cod comes from Fishbase http://eol.org/pages/206692
> Pages I don't consider Species Pages are:
> Catalogue of Life has a page that comes from Fishbase but that chucks
> out the "useful" information and only maintains the nomenclature.
> http://www.catalogueoflife.org/show_species_details.php?record_id=5347829
> The ITIS page is similar to the CoL page
> http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=164712
> Likewise Fauna Europaea page for Meles meles (Badger) lacks a
> description because it is a nomenclatural database.
> http://www.faunaeur.org/full_results.php?id=305312
> I'd like to build a list of sites offering "real" species page
> information - with descriptions. At the moment it seems like the major
> source of these pages are electronic versions of the literature. We
> have good descriptions in sources like eFloras.org
> http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=5&taxon_id=242417133
>  and I hope BHL will be a source. This is a shame as these pages
> typically lack large numbers of images and the possibility of
> including other media.
> I'd be grateful for any suggestions of sites that contain species
> pages (as per my definition).
> Many thanks,
> Roger
> BTW: I'd rather use the term "Taxon Page" as these things could apply
> at any rank but there seems to be a consensus to call them Species
> Pages no matter what rank they apply to and people are typically
> interested in species.
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