About the Catalogue of Life

The Catalogue of Life

The Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life is planned to become a comprehensive catalogue of all known species of organisms on Earth by the year 2011. Rapid progress has been made recently and this, the sixth edition of the Annual Checklist, contains 884,552 species, approximately half of all known organisms.

The present Catalogue is compiled with sectors provided by 37 taxonomic databases from around the world. Many of these contain taxonomic data and opinions from extensive networks of specialists, so that the complete work contains contributions from an estimated 2-3,000 specialists from throughout the taxonomic profession. The work of the Species 2000 and ITIS teams is to peer review databases, select appropriate sectors and to integrate the sectors into a single coherent catalogue with a single hierarchical classification. It is planned in future to introduce alternative taxonomic treatments and alternative hierarchies, but an important feature is that for those users who wish to use it, a single preferred catalogue, based on peer reviews, will continue to be provided.

The Catalogue is published in two products:

Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2006 Annual Checklist
The Annual Checklist is published each year as a fixed edition that can be cited and used as a common catalogue for comparative purposes by many organisations. A copy is on CD-ROM, which is distributed free of charge, and an identical copy is on the web site at www.sp2000.org. Archive versions of the earlier editions are on the web site.

Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: Dynamic Checklist
The Dynamic Checklist is a virtual catalogue operated on the internet and available both for users and as an electronic web-service at www.sp2000.org. The Dynamic Checklist harvests taxonomic sectors and strands of hierarchical classification dynamically from the source databases across the internet. The Dynamic Checklist is presently less extensive than the Annual Checklist because fewer taxonomic sectors have been connected so far. It differs in concept from the Annual Checklist in that:
(i) the taxonomic records may be updated and the catalogue changed more frequently than in the Annual Checklist and (ii) the Dynamic Checklist contains additional regional species checklists (such as the Regional Checklist - Europe, effectively a Pan-European Species Checklist) not included in the Annual Checklist.


The Catalogue of Life partnership

In June 2001 the Species 2000 and ITIS organisations decided to work together to create the Catalogue of Life. They declared a target for completing coverage for all 1.75 million known species by 2011. The two organisations remain separate and different in structure. However, by working together in creating a common product, the partnership has enabled them to reduce duplication of effort, make better use of resources, and to accelerate production. The combined Annual Checklist on CD-ROM has become well established as a cited reference used for data compilation and composition. For instance, it is used as the principal taxonomic index in the GBIF data portal and recognised by the CBD. The partnership receives support from GBIF.


About ITIS

The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) is a partnership of federal agencies and other organisations from the United States, Canada, and Mexico, with data stewards and experts from around the world (see www.itis.usda.gov). The ITIS database is an automated reference of scientific and common names of biota of interest to North America. It contains more than 400,000 names for species in all kingdoms, and is accessible via the World Wide Web in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese (http://itis.gbif.net). ITIS is part of the US National Biological Information Infrastructure (www.nbii.gov) and an associate member of GBIF.
ITIS is managed by Michael Ruggiero (Director), Thomas Orrell (Program Manager), David Nicolson (Data Development Leader), Paula Huddleston (Information Technology Leader), Roy McDiarmid (Taxonomy Leader), Guy Baillargeon (ITIS-Canada Director), and Patricia Koleff (SIIT-Mexico Director). They are advised and supported by the ITIS Steering Committee and ITIS Data Stewards.


About Species 2000

Species 2000 (www.sp2000.org) is an autonomous federation of taxonomic database custodians, involving taxonomists throughout the world. Its goal is to collate a uniform and validated index to the world's known species. It is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee (Registered in England No. 3479405) with five directors and taxonomic database organisations from around the world as members. It is sponsored by CODATA, IUBS and IUMS; is an associate member of GBIF; and is recognised by UNEP and the CBD. There are two regional programmes: Species 2000 europa (sp2000europa.org), funded by the European Commission, working with global and regional databases based in Europe; Species 2000 Asia-Oceania (www.sp2000au.nies.go.jp) working to promote taxonomy and taxonomic databasing in that region.

The Species 2000 scientific programme is led by its Team (Karen L Wilson (Australia), Junko Shimura (Japan), Frank A. Bisby (UK), Guy Baillargeon (Canada), Vanderlei P. Canhos (Brazil), Michael A. Ruggiero (USA), Peter H. Schalk (The Netherlands) & Richard J. White (UK)) with further assistance from the Species 2000 europa Steering Group and the Species 2000 Asia-Oceania Group.