Glossary of Terms

Xanthoria parietina (L.) Th. Fr. - Photo CC By Donald Hobern

Checklist Confidence

An indication to give users a quick guide to the reliability of presented data, assigned by authors/editors of each database. The qualification only reflects data reliability in the Catalogue of Life, and may not be applicable to the original view of the database through its own website.

  • ★ - Caution! This dataset does not contain a well-scrutinised taxonomic checklist, and in parts may be a list of taxonomically unvetted names only. However, it is used by the Catalogue of Life as a placeholder to fill major gaps that cannot currently be addressed otherwise.
  • ★★ - Caution! This dataset is a scrutinised taxonomic checklist, but it is incomplete and at an early stage of its development.
  • ★★★ - This is a well-scrutinised taxonomic checklist, but it is restricted to a subset of species by geography (regional database), or sector of biological discipline (e.g. thematic database in particular ecological area, conservation, quarantine, pest and disease control, medicine or molecular biology, etc). This data set was included in the Catalogue of Life to fill gaps at lower levels of the taxonomic classification (e.g. species, genera) as a temporary solution.
  • ★★★★ - This is a nearly complete and fully scrutinised taxonomic checklist with a good quality of expertise at the current stage of its development.
  • ★★★★★ - This is a complete and fully scrutinised taxonomic checklist for an entire taxon with a high quality of expertise and frequent updates, which covers nearly all known species diversity in the taxon worldwide.

Checklist Status

Indicates whether a name is the preferred name for a species:

  • Accepted: The name that should be used to refer to a species
  • Synonym: A name that is considered to refer to a species properly known by an Accepted name
  • Provisionally Accepted: A name that is included in the list to refer to a species, but where more information is required to be certain of the validity of the species in question
  • Ambiguous Synonym: A name that has been used to refer to more than one possible species
  • Misapplied: A name that has been incorrectly used by some authors to refer to a species other than the one for which it was established
  • Bare Name: A name that has not been formally published


A list showing each of the higher taxa within which this species is included. The COL checklist is organised in a single management classification, using a hierarchy that reflects an integration of taxonomic opinion for the purpose of arranging species checklists from different providers into one classification system. The management classification includes higher ranks appropriate for each taxonomic group.

COL Checklist

A freely accessible global index of species, showing which species is referenced by any scientific name. The checklist is an aggregation of data provided by many taxonomic communities across the world.


A list of regions and countries in which the species is recorded as provided by the taxonomic community that contributed the data to the checklist.


Environment in which the species is known to occur. One or more of marine, freshwater, brackish and terrestrial.

Extinct Species

Indicates species which are believed to be no longer living (extinct). All extinct taxa are identified in the interface with a dagger symbol (†) preceding the scientific name. This status is provided by the taxonomic community that contributed the data to the checklist.


An option to search for names that may be close but not exactly match a search string.

Name Field

An option to restrict search to a single element in a name record, one of: Code, Genus, Specific Epithet, Combination Authors, Published In, Combination Year, Basionym Authors, or Published In Page.

Name Type

An option to restrict search to Virus names or to exclude them (Scientific).

Nomenclatural Status

One of the supported nomenclatural status values, indicating the status of the name under the relevant nomenclatural code (the set of rules for naming organisms within a given kingdom): Acceptable, Unacceptable, Established, Not Established, Manuscript, Rejected, Doubtful, Conserved.

Taxonomic Scrutiny

Information on the most recent review of the species or infraspecific taxon by taxonomic experts. It includes the name(s) of the taxonomic expert or editor (scrutinizer), who is responsible for the taxonomic concept accepted in the source dataset and the date when the expert or editor assessed the record.

Vernacular Names

Common names that have been used in different languaes to refer to a species.