COL Governance

Leadership and committees

Tauraco leucotis (Rüppell, 1835) - Photo CC By Jan Huijbers

Catalogue of Life (COL) was originally established as a partnership between Species 2000 and the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). Recently, the COL partnership has been strengthened through the involvement of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). Species 2000 provides the residual legal body for Catalogue of Life, holding its Intellectual Property Rights, copyright, domain names, access licences, Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs), taking responsibility for continuity between major projects and providing the ongoing governance of Catalogue of Life. Species 2000 is an autonomous federation of taxonomic database custodians, involving taxonomists throughout the world. Our goal is to collate a uniform and validated index to the world’s known species (plants, animals, fungi and microbes). Species 2000 is registered as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee (registered in England No. 3479405). In the near future, the company will move from the UK to the Netherlands.

Species 2000 / Catalogue of Life is governed by a Board of Directors, an advisory body called the Catalogue of Life Global Team (including associated working groups), and a distributed secretariat.

Board of Directors

Species 2000, and thus the Catalogue of Life, is managed by the Board of Directors (BoD). The BoD deals with international policy and business issues, appoints new Directors, appoints and authorises ‘The COL Global Team’, including appointing the COL Global Team Chair, and appointing and authorising the Executive Secretary. Directors contribute their expertise to the organisation and work closely with the Executive Secretary. The BoD elects a Chair and also appoints a Company Secretary. It usually meets two times per year in different continents. The Board currently consists of:

  • Dr Peter Schalk (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Netherlands), Chair of the Board of Directors
  • Prof. W. Alex Gray (Computer Science & Informatics, United Kingdom), Company Secretary and Treasurer
  • Mr Francisco (Tjess) Hernandez (Data Centre Manager, Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), Belgium), Member of the Board
  • Dr Keping Ma (Professor of Plant Ecology in Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China), Member of the Board
  • Dr Edward DeWalt (University of Illinois, Prairie Research Institute, Illinois Natural History Survey, USA), Member of the Board
  • Pr Thierry Bourgoin (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, France), Member of the Board
  • Mrs Leen Vandepitte (Flanders Marine Institute, Belgium), Catalogue of Life Global Team Chair, Ex Officio Member
  • Dr Thomas Orrell (Integrated Taxonomic Information System), COL Partnership, Ex Officio Member
  • Dr Olaf Bánki (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Netherlands) Executive Secretary Species 2000 / Catalogue of Life, Ex Officio Member

Global Team

The COL Global Team consists of active participants who contribute to the taxonomic and IT policy and to the design of the work programme. Team members bring expertise in the fields of taxonomy and biodiversity informatics and/or as global or regional checklist data custodians. The Global Team develops criteria for selecting global and regional taxonomic content, liaises between the project and the taxonomic and informatics communities, recommends a work programme to the Directors, monitors progress of work and deals with quality maintenance issues. It meets every 6-9 months, rotating between continents.

Working Groups (max. 15 persons) may be set up by the COL Global Team for special aspects. Two working groups currently exist for Information Systems and Taxonomy. The working groups are each led by a member of the COL Global Team but may include co-opted non-members.

Members of the Catalogue of Life Global Team

  • Leen Vandepitte (Belgium), Chair
  • Thomas Pape (Denmark), Vice Chair
  • Olaf Bánki (Netherlands), Ex Officio
  • Maria Marta Cigliano (Argentina)
  • Markus Döring (Germany)
  • Anne Fuchs (Australia)
  • Stephen Garnett (Australia)
  • Donald Hobern (Australia)
  • David Nicolson (USA)
  • Li-Qiang Ji (China)
  • Thomas Orrell (USA)
  • Richard Pyle (USA)
  • Lauren Raz (Colombia)
  • Nina Wambiji (Kenya)
  • Haylee Weaver (Australia)

Members of the Taxonomy Group

  • Donald Hobern (Australia), Chair
  • Nicolas Bailly (Canada)
  • Olaf Bánki (Netherlands), Ex Officio
  • Thierry Bourgoin (France), Ex Officio
  • Maria Marta Cigliano, (Argentina)
  • Mark Costello (New Zealand)
  • Edward DeWalt, (USA), Ex Officio
  • Jeyaraney Kathirithamby (United Kingdom)
  • David Nicolson (USA)
  • Thomas Orrell (USA)
  • Geoffrey Ower (USA), Ex Officio
  • Thomas Pape (Denmark)
  • Richard Pyle (USA)
  • Tony Rees (Australia)
  • Yuri Roskov (USA), Ex Officio
  • Michael Ruggiero (USA)
  • Jacek Szwedo (Poland)
  • Leen Vandepitte (Belgium)

Members of the Information Systems Group

  • Olaf Bánki (NL), acting Chair
  • Markus Döring (Germany)
  • Tim Robertson (Denmark)
  • Bart Vanhoorne (Belgium)

Members of the Species List Governance Group

  • Stephen Garnett (Australia), Chair
  • Olaf Bánki (Netherlands), Ex Officio
  • Saroj Barik (India)
  • Maria Marta Cigliano (Argentina)
  • Stijn Conix (Belgium)
  • Craig Hilton-Taylor (UK)
  • Donald Hobern (Australia), Ex Officio
  • Aaron Lien (USA)
  • Dalia Conde Ovando (Denmark)
  • Lauren Raz (Colombia)
  • Kevin Thiele (Australia)
  • Scott Thomson (Brasil)
  • Leen Vandepitte (Belgium), Ex Officio
  • Peter Paul van Dijk (USA)
  • Nina Wambiji (Kenya)
  • Anthony Whalen (Australia)
  • Frank Zachos (Austria)


Catalogue of Life is maintained by a distributed secretariat. Naturalis Biodiversity Center hosts the secretariat, the Illinois Natural History Survey hosts the editorial office, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility hosts the infrastructure.

  • Executive Secretary - Dr. Olaf Bánki - Naturalis Biodiversity Center, The Netherlands
  • International Engagement Officer - Mr. Donald Hobern - Species 2000, Australia
  • Executive Editor - Dr. Yuri Roskov - Illinois Natural History Survey, United States of America
  • Global Species Catalogue Editor - Ms. Diana Hernandez
  • Global Species Catalogue Editor - Ms. Camila Plata
  • Database manager - Dr. Geoff Ower - Illinois Natural History Survey, United States of America
  • Mr. Ari Örn is a volunteer with Species 2000 doing quality assurance checks on the ColDP archives each month

Infrastructure project team

A dedicated project team works to build and expand the Catalogue of Life Infrastructure hosted and powered by GBIF. The aim is to develop Catalogue of Life as a joint infrastructure for names and taxonomy to create core services for biodiversity data initiatives such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), the International Barcode of Life (iBOL), the Distributed System of Scientific Collections (DiSSCo), and the LifeWatch ERIC, amongst others.

The project team works closely with the Catalogue of Life Secretariat and its partners.

  • Lead developer - Mr. Markus Döring - Global Biodiversity Information Facility - Germany
  • User Interface developer - Mr. Thomas Stjernegaard Jeppesen Global Biodiversity Information Facility - Denmark