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January 16, 2024 / by Olaf Bánki

GBIF to serve as administrative host for Species 2000 Secretariat

The GBIF Secretariat and Species 2000 have signed an agreement for GBIF to serve as the host for the Species 2000 Secretariat starting on 1 January 2024. The agreement will strengthen their collaboration on both the Catalogue of Life (COL) and ChecklistBank, while both COL and GBIF will remain independent organizations with their own missions, governance and identities.

The complementary missions of COL and GBIF are reflected in more than two decades of collaboration between the organizations. The Global Biodata Coalition has recognized both infrastructures as Global Core Biodata Resources. The partners have worked together to build ChecklistBank as a joint infrastructure for managing and delivering taxonomic data, which GBIF has hosted alongside the latest version of the Catalogue of Life website since December 2020.

Along with providing administrative support for Species 2000 for two years, GBIF will work with COL to secure funding for the core operations of its distributed Secretariat. At its most recent governing board meeting in October, GBIF announced initial contributions into a Special Purpose Fund supporting collaboration with COL on ChecklistBank from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History / Integrated Taxonomic Information Service (ITIS), the World Bank, and the Netherlands / Stichting ter Bevordering van Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek (SNBO).

“Deepening the collaboration between Catalogue of Life and GBIF aligns with our vision of providing consistent, comprehensive taxonomic information needed to harmonize biodiversity data for scientific and policy uses across all sectors,” said Peter Schalk, chair of the Species 2000 Board of Directors, who also served from 2013 to 2017 as chair of the GBIF Governing Board. “We are pleased with COL executive secretary Olaf Bánki‘s efforts to secure this agreement with GBIF and look forward to his continued leadership.”

“The Catalogue of Life is the most professional and reliable source of global taxonomic data on biodiversity, and GBIF is a powerful worldwide network for big data on species distribution and beyond,” said Keping Ma, professor of plant ecology at the Institute of Botany, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IBCAS) and board member of Species 2000. “The combined efforts of these partners will create even greater impact and influence on the field of biodiversity informatics, and I look forward to the bright future of their collective initiative.”

ChecklistBank serves as core infrastructure for both COL and GBIF and evolved from GBIF’s internal “checklistbank” system for managing checklist datasets. GBIF developers have fully rewritten the new public-facing service into an open-access, enterprise-scale publishing platform and data repository for managing all the constituent sources of scientific names and taxonomy that go into the Catalogue of Life.

Development efforts are currently focused on preparing the first production release of an “extended” Catalogue of Life Checklist capable of replacing the GBIF Backbone Taxonomy later this year. As outlined in its current work programme, GBIF will begin work this year toward retiring the internal “checklistbank” database and replacing it with ChecklistBank. Upon fulfilling these first two use cases, GBIF and COL will turn their focus to refinements enabling other initiatives to use ChecklistBank, which may lead to additional needs and opportunities for cooperation.

“Our collaboration with Catalogue of Life remains critically important for delivering on the original vision of GBIF and enabling users to navigate and put to use vast quantities of biodiversity information,” said Joe Miller, GBIF’s executive secretary. “Our work to date on ChecklistBank is an important step toward making it much easier for GBIF nodes and our wider community to prepare and share more nationally and thematically relevant checklist datasets.”

Catalogue of Life and GBIF Logo

Global Core Biodata Resource Logo