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August 15, 2022 / by Olaf Bánki

Vacancy - Global species catalogue editor

Species 2000/Catalogue of Life (COL), in collaboration with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) secretariat, is seeking a contractor to assemble a semi-automated part of the COL Checklist.

The COL Checklist itself is underpinned by global species databases maintained by taxonomists and experts and ssembled by an editorial team. The addition of a semi-automated part will make the COL Checklist more comprehensive by including extended information and enriched data. It will improve taxonomic coverage and usefulness of the COL Checklist also in delivering taxonomic services for GBIF-mediated occurrences.

For more than 20 years Catalogue of Life1 has worked to assemble an authoritative catalogue of the world’s species, living and extinct. The Global Biodiversity Information Facility2 has worked through this period to promote the digitization, access and discovery of occurrences of life on earth. COL and GBIF have collaboratively built an open data infrastructure: ChecklistBank, to support the publishing and assembly of (global) species checklists. The work is centered on publishing taxonomic datasets in ChecklistBank with its publicly available tools to compare datasets, and building a hierarchical (consensus) taxonomy by combining resources available in ChecklistBank. Included in ChecklistBank are all the source datasets needed for the assembly of the Catalogue of Life Checklist. Additionally, all datasets are present that are currently used by GBIF to produce its taxonomic backbone which is used in indexing and enabling the discovery of all GBIF mediated species occurrences. These datasets will be assembled in a comprehensive COL Checklist through semi-automated processes. This comprehensive Checklist will in time serve as the candidate replacement for the current GBIF BackBone Taxonomy.

Function and contract description

In this role, the contractor will work with both the COL and GBIF secretariats as well as the advisory bodies of the COL governance, such as the COL taxonomic working group and the COL Global Team. This is an exciting opportunity to work with global open data infrastructures, a team of dedicated experts and the global taxonomic community to build a global resource with impact.

The position involves a mix of the following tasks:

  • Liaise with taxonomic communities in publishing new and updating (global) taxonomic and nomenclatural data sources in ChecklistBank;
  • Prioritize taxonomic and nomenclatural data sources to be published to ChecklistBank and be included in the (comprehensive) COL Checklist;
  • Assemble a more comprehensive COL Checklist including additional taxonomic and nomenclatural data resources, scientific names, references, BINs, common names, etc.
  • Use newly developed tools to link taxonomic data into sectors of the taxonomic hierarchy and apply editorial decisions to create a consistent and up to date (comprehensive) COL Checklist on a periodic basis;
  • Apply and improve criteria for the inclusion and replacement of taxonomic datasets in ChecklistBank and the (comprehensive) COL Checklist;
  • Work closely with the COL Governance, Secretariat, and the COL taxonomic working group to identify the best datasets to incorporate into the comprehensive COL Checklist;
  • Work closely with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and other institutional partners of COL to supply required taxonomic services;
  • Provide feedback to developers on the performance of taxonomic tools in ChecklistBank;
  • Work with the GBIF Secretariat to implement tools that measure improvements of GBIF occurrence data through taxonomic improvements.

Required qualifications

  • Degree in biodiversity sciences, preferably in taxonomy or with clear relation and affinity to taxonomy
  • Experience in assembling taxonomic checklist(s)
  • Experience in working with databases, APIs and comfort using SQL
  • Basic knowledge of a scripting language for data transformations (ETL), preferably Python
  • Knowledge of zoological and/or botanical nomenclatural codes
  • Demonstrable experience with voluntary networks, and people with varying cultural backgrounds
  • Fluency in English
  • Experience working remotely and independently
  • Experience or demonstrated ability to work across multiple taxonomic groups
  • Enjoying working in an international team of specialists
  • Familiarity with DarwinCore or Frictionless Data
  • Experience with git and Github
  • Familiarity with relevant IT tools and data conversion scripts
  • Experience working alongside a software development team
  • User experience with taxonomic editing tools and cybertaxonomy

Remuneration and conditions

The contractor will work remotely under direct contract to the COL Secretariat via Species 2000, one of the legal entities supporting the work of the Catalogue of Life. Given the source of the funding (EU projects such as BiCIKL), the contract needs to be directly with the contractor and not with an organisation in between. The contract is for a full time position, 32 to 40 hours per week. In case the contractor is situated outside Europe, we request that the contractor is at least available online during half of a European working day. The initial contract will be for a 1-2 years period. COL and the contractor can agree to jointly explore the possibilities for an extension of the contracting period. Performance indicators will be developed and the contractor is expected to complete successful targets over the contract period. The contractor reports to the Catalogue of Life Executive Secretary. Species 2000 / Catalogue of Life is an employer that strives for equality and diversity in terms of gender and cultural background.

Application procedure and deadline

To apply, please send a curriculum vitae along with a cover letter, detailing your skills and qualifications and how you envisage adding value to ChecklistBank and Catalogue of Life. Candidates must submit applications in English via email to by the deadline of 23 September 2022. Please indicate in the application where you saw this advertisement.

Enquiries concerning the position can be addressed to Olaf Banki ( or Joe Miller (

1 The Catalogue of Life (COL) is an international collaboration, bringing together taxonomists and informaticians from across the globe to build a catalogue of all the known world’s species. The COL Checklist is underpinned by a global community of more than 500 experts, representing over 160 taxonomic datasets. The COL Checklist contains well over 2 million accepted species to date. COL supports a large user base from individual scientists to biodiversity data infrastructures to policy-maker initiatives.

2 The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) has the mission to make occurrences of all living organisms on earth available online. GBIF is an inter-governmental organisation, in majority financed by countries. The GBIF community and governance contains country representatives as well as international organisation representatives. GBIF supports a large user base. More than 2 scientific publications are published on a daily basis with the use of GBIF mediated occurrence data.

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