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

Wilson Karen Karen.Wilson at rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au
Sun Feb 1 16:47:34 CST 2009

For Australia, Roger, you mention FloraBase, produced by the WA
Herbarium in Perth, which is a good site covering Western Australian
plant species. We are in the happy position of having various sites
providing similar information for different parts of the country, both
for plants and animals. Some are just being developed but others have
been around for a while now.

For the whole of Australia, ABRS has the Flora of Australia online at
ndex.html This is as published in hard-copy, complete with maps and

ABRS also has Species Bank, which has a range of plant and animal
species online -

Here at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, we have pages for the
vascular plants of New South Wales: the NSW Flora Online . See
http:\\plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au  This began as the electronic version
of our hardcopy 'Flora of NSW' published in four vols 1990-93, but is
being updated and extended as new species are added to the flora and as
resources permit.  We are about to start a project to provide 'real'
electronic keys, rather than just hyperlinked dichotomous keys, but how
quickly that progresses wiill, as always, depend very much on finding
more funding. 

Also in Sydney, the Australian Museum has species pages for a range of
groups, e.g. birds at http://www.amonline.net.au/birds/

There are also Australian sites for particular groups of plants such as
Acacia spp - http://www.worldwidewattle.com/

There are other sites such as for the Trees of Papua New Guinea project
that provide good species pages for our geographic neighbours - that is
at http://www.pngplants.org/PNGtrees/
And in New Zealand, the hardcopy Flora volumes have been put in the web
- http://floraseries.landcareresearch.co.nz/pages/index.aspx

Just a quick list of those sites that I know best - apologies to those
whose sites I've omitted!

And a note about your comment on the Species 2000 and ITIS Catalogue of
Life 'chucking out' information, to use your rather pejorative term: the
CoL is intended to be an authoritatitve checklist of the world's
species, not to provide full species pages, which is presently being
done by a range of other projects, including some of the contributing
databases and others such as Encyclopedia of Life and Atlas of Living
Australia. However, to help users, the CoL does provide links back to
the contributing databases, such as FishBase, so that users can access
whatever other information is available at the source (a lot, of course,
in the case of FishBase). 

Karen W

Karen L. Wilson, AM
Acting Manager Plant Diversity Section 
National Herbarium of NSW
Botanic Gardens Trust 
Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney 
Mrs Macquaries Road 

Phone: +61 2 9231 8137 
Fax: +61 2  9251 7231
Email: karen.wilson at rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au
Website: www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au
The Botanic Gardens Trust is part of the Department of Environment and
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-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Roger Hyam
Sent: Sunday, 1 February 2009 9:59 PM
To: Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: [Taxacom] Species Pages - where are the online descriptions?


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):
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:
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

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.

The ITIS page is similar to the CoL page

Likewise Fauna Europaea page for Meles meles (Badger) lacks a
description because it is a nomenclatural database.

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
  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,


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


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