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October 18, 2020 / by Olaf Bánki

New Catalogue of Life: infrastructure

Updated infrastructure

The COL Secretariat has been working hard on an overhaul of the underlying digital infrastructure for the Catalogue of Life. This new infrastructure allows the Catalogue of Life to function more efficiently, to better facilitate the work of the taxonomic communities and provide a more sustainable service for other biodiversity information initiatives.

One of the major benefits of the new Catalogue of Life is the ability to serve directly as the taxonomic structure for the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and other biodiversity data initiatives. GBIF uses COL as the core of its taxonomic backbone. To ensure that all biodiversity data mediated through the GBIF network is properly handled, GBIF has extended the COL Checklist with additional taxonomic datasets to fill data gaps and increase the pool of scientific names. By joining efforts, GBIF and COL are now working to deliver a single integrated taxonomic and names infrastructure.

This new infrastructure forms the backbone of the Browse and Search functions on the new COL website.

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COL ChecklistBank

COL has established COL ChecklistBank as its checklist store, powered by GBIF. The COL Checklist is assembled out of data from the COL ChecklistBank. In addition, COL ChecklistBank will serve as a public checklist repository that will bring together the latest versions of the checklists for each taxonomic sector, along with thousands of other species checklists shared by researchers and other contributors. In the near future, COL ChecklistBank will allow published checklists to be discoverable and citable in simple and standardised ways and for these to be downloadable both in their original form and in a standard interpreted format. All published checklists can be searched, browsed, downloaded or accessed via a standard Application Programming Interface (API).

COL ChecklistBank will serve as a rich resource for discovering how any scientific name has been used in different contexts. Some of the names found in these checklists do not yet appear in any community-managed sector checklist, so ChecklistBank will also help to address gaps in COL.

The ChecklistBank tools will make it much easier for COL contributors to check how their datasets are interpreted by COL and to upload new versions.