The Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life

The Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life is planned to become a comprehensive catalogue of all known species of organisms on Earth. Rapid progress has been made recently and this, the eleventh edition of the Annual Checklist, contains 1,347,224 species. Please note that this is probably just slightly over 2/3 of the world's known species. This means that for many groups it continues to be deficient, and users will notice that many species are still missing from the Catalogue.

The present Catalogue is compiled with sectors provided by 99 taxonomic databases from around the world. Many of these contain taxonomic data and opinions from extensive networks of specialists, so that the complete work contains contributions from more than 3,000 specialists from throughout the taxonomic profession. Species 2000 and ITIS teams peer review databases, select appropriate sectors and integrate the sectors into a single coherent catalogue with a single hierarchical classification. It is planned to introduce alternative taxonomic treatments and alternative classifications, but an important feature is that for those users who wish to use it, a single preferred catalogue, based on peer reviews, will continue to be provided.

As a new development started in 2010, there has been a change in the published editions of the Catalogue. This is part of a process in the EC 4D4Life Project to bring the Annual Checklist and Dynamic Checklist into better relation with each other and ultimately to have only a single product - The Catalogue of Life.
   i) As a temporary measure what are presently "quarterly editions" of the Catalogue of Life are published on each of the 3 quarters between one Annual Checklist (1st April) and the next, and the Dynamic Checklist is discontinued for the present. Unlike the old Dynamic Checklist, the "quarterly editions" bring together taxonomic sectors harvested by several different processes, but all into a single work that will become "The Catalogue of Life". We expect in future to increase the frequency from quarterly, and, in the long term, plan that it will become truly dynamic with some sectors harvested semi-automatically from supplier GSDs.
   ii) The publication of the Annual Checklist, as a fixed yearly edition will continue online, as a web-service and on DVD.

• The Catalogue of Life (quarterly editions)
These are progressively enhanced editions in what will become a dynamically developing system, made available online and as web-services. The present frequency is quarterly with releases in July, October, January and on 1st April as an Annual Checklist. At all times the latest release is available for online access at Archives of previous releases can be downloaded from

• Annual Checklist of the Catalogue of Life
Published each April online, as web-services, and on DVD. At all times the latest Annual Checklist is online at A fixed edition that is published, archived and deposited in public libraries, that can be cited, and that can be used as a common catalogue for comparative purposes by many organisations. A copy is on this DVD, which is distributed free of charge, and identical copies are viewable and downloadable on the website. The archive edition for 2011 is at Archived editions can be found by changing the year in the URL (e.g. /2010, /2009 etc.), and downloadable versions and web-services can be found at

The Catalogue of Life partnership

In June 2001 the Species 2000 and ITIS organisations, that had previously worked separately, decided to work together to create the Catalogue of Life, now estimated at 1.9 million species (Chapman, 2009). The two organisations remain separate and different in structure. However, by working together in creating a common product, the partnership has enabled them to reduce duplication of effort, make better use of resources, and to accelerate production. The combined Annual Checklist has become well established as a cited reference used for data compilation and comparison. For instance, it is used as the principal taxonomic index in the GBIF and EoL data portals and recognised by the CBD.

The scientific policy for the Catalogue of Life programme is developed by the CoL Global Team: Guy Baillargeon (Canada), Frank Bisby (UK), Thierry Bourgoin (France), Jerry Cooper (New Zealand), Mark Costello (New Zealand), David Eades (USA), Dennis Gordon (New Zealand), Hugo Navarrete (Ecuador), Liqiang Ji (China), Heimo Rainer (Austria), Michael Ruggiero (USA), Nicolas Bailly (Philippines), Edward Vanden Berghe (USA), Richard White (UK), with further assistance from the Regional Hubs.

About ITIS

The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) is a partnership of federal agencies and other organisations from the United States, Canada, and Mexico, with data stewards and experts from around the world (see The ITIS database is an automated reference of scientific and common names of biota of interest to North America . It contains more than 629,800 scientific and common names in all kingdoms, and is accessible via the World Wide Web in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese ( ITIS is part of the US National Biological Information Infrastructure ( and an associate member of GBIF

ITIS is managed by Gerald Guala (Director), Thomas Orrell (Deputy Director), Michael Ruggiero (Senior Scientific Advisor), David Nicolson (Data Development Leader), Mike Frame (Information Technology Leader), Roy McDiarmid (Taxonomy Leader), Guy Baillargeon (ITIS-Canada Director), and Patricia Koleff (SIIT-Mexico Director). They are advised and supported by the ITIS Steering Committee and ITIS Data Stewards.

About Species 2000

Species 2000 ( is an autonomous federation of taxonomic database custodians, involving taxonomists throughout the world. The goal is to collate a uniform and validated index to the world's known species. Species 2000 is registered as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee (registered in England No. 3479405) with six directors, and taxonomic database and relevant software organisations from around the world as members. It started from a TDWG Task Group; sponsored by CODATA, IUBS and IUMS; is an associate participant in GBIF, a data provider to EC LifeWatch; and is recognised by UNEP and the CBD. Its Phase II Programme includes EC 4D4Life and i4Life e-infrastructure projects. 4D4Life includes the establishment of a Global Multi-Hub Network with Regional Centres in China, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil and N. America. i4Life includes pipelines for data exchange and checklist harmonisation with GBIF, EBI/NSDC, Barcode of Life, IUCN Red List and EoL.

Species 2000 is governed by an elected Board of Directors that deals with legal and financial matters, and that is advised by the CoL Global Team on scientific policy. The Directors are presently: Peter Schalk (Chair, The Netherlands), Guy Baillargeon (Convenor of the CoL Global Team, Canada), Frank Bisby (Executive Director, UK), Vanderlei Canhos (Brazil), Alex Gray (UK) and Keping Ma (China).