Press Releases

International agreement takes Catalogue of Life forward – University of Reading

Release Date : 19 January 2004

*There is no catalogue of the known organisms on Earth – a fact that surprises many outside the sphere of biodiversity – but a significant step was taken recently towards producing such an index when an international agreement was signed to help develop the Catalogue of Life. Professor Frank Bisby, of the School of Plant Sciences at the University of Reading, and Dr Michael Ruggiero in Washington, DC, signed agreements with the intergovernmental Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), based in Copenhagen, Denmark. The partners agreed to use the developing Catalogue of Life, a comprehensive electronic index of all known organisms, as the core species index for GBIF. The Catalogue of Life programme is principally run by Species 2000, based in Reading, and the North American Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), based at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. The GBIF will enable scientists and citizens alike to navigate, extract and analyse the world's vast amounts of biodiversity information. It will enable them to put it to use in generating the economic, environmental, social and scientific benefits from the sustainable use, conservation and study of biodiversity resources ( In particular, it will make the world's primary biodiversity data on specimens available from the natural history museum collections, botanical gardens, zoos, culture collections, libraries and associated databases all around the world. To do this, it is evolving an interoperable network of the appropriate biodiversity databases and information technology tools. Professor Bisby, Executive Director of Species 2000, which is a not-for-profit organisation acting as a federation of taxonomic database organisations around the world, said: 'The endorsement and partnership that GBIF brings to the programme is expected to make this a major milestone in the already developing global Catalogue of Life programme with partner organisations around the world. 'These partner organisations specialise in plant, animal, fungal and microbial biodiversity, and work to provide and maintain relevant sectors of the distributed database system. Major partners in the UK include the Natural History Museum, London, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and CABI Bioscience. 'It is anticipated that the synonymic species checklist pioneered by the Catalogue of Life partnership and made available through this new agreement, will play a key role in the name-service and indexing functions of the GBIF portal.' end Notes for Editors -The School of Plant Sciences hosts the secretariat of the Species 2000 organisation of which Frank Bisby is Executive Director. Species 2000 is a not-for-profit organisation acting as a federation of taxonomic database organisations around the world where each provides and maintains an appropriate sector of the knowledge-base – eg for Fish (in the Philippines), for Bacteria (in Japan), for Bruchid beetles (in Mexico), for Ticks (in The Netherlands), for Legume plants (here in Reading), or for Viruses (in the USA), (see The secretariat also leads biodiversity informatics projects to develop the appropriate distributed software systems on the Internet and the GRID, particularly with Cardiff University, under BBSRC and EC funding (BBSRC "LITCHI" and "SPICE" projects, EC "EuroCat" project). -The major partner working with Species 2000 is ITIS, operated by US, Mexican and Canadian federal agencies (such as Agriculture, Parks and Wildlife etc.) from a base within the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. ITIS provides the taxonomic classification presently used to sectorise the Catalogue, as well as making a very substantial contribution to the content of the system (see ITIS not only covers most organisms from North America, but also global sectors for Mammals, Reptiles and other groups. Contact Details: Catalogue of Life/Species 2000 Secretariat, School of Plant Sciences, The University of Reading, READING, RG6 6AS, UK Contact: Miss Pamela Harling on +44 118 3786466 or e-mail: Catalogue of Life/ITIS Secretariat, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, NMNH, Room CE-120, MRC-0180, Washington DC 20013-7012, USA Contact: Dr Michael Ruggiero on +1 202 7863117 or e-mail: GBIF Secretariat, Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100, Copenhagen, Denmark Contact: Dr Meredith Lane on +45 353 21484 or e-mail:


Search Form

Main navigation