Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Species 2000 renews MoU with CETAF

Christina Flann (Species 2000) and Michelle Price (CETAF Chair),
signing the renewed MoU
Last week in Geneva at the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities CETAF38 Meeting, the renewed MoU between Species 2000 and CETAF was signed. The meeting was held in the Ariana Museum and Christina Flann, Species 2000 Strategic Partnerships Officer, gave a presentation on the synergies between the draft CoL Strategic Plan and the strategic plans of GBIF and CETAF, both ratified by the respective bodies last week. We look forward to a continued vibrant relationship with CETAF and its members. During the meeting Species 2000 was invited to attend a CETAF Earth Sciences Working Group meeting in February 2016 to discuss incorporating European fossil data into the CoL.

Geneva was a beautiful location and walking along the lakeside to the fantastic dinner held in the Herbarium we marvelled at the famous fountain as the sun set over the mountains in the background. 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Paul Schoolmeesters, Catalogue of Life Knight - 15 Years of up-to-date Scarab Data

Catalogue of Life CD launch 2000
Paul Schoolmeesters was one of first data providers in the Catalogue of Life. His Scarabs database was published in very first 2000 Annual Checklist. He has continued to be a very active Global Species Database custodian and the World Scarabaeidae Database has been updated every year since then and now twice a year! 

At the Catalogue of Life Global Team Meeting in Oostende this year he was  awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for his 15 years of contribution to the Catalogue of Life. As Yuri Roskov, the Executive Editor, affectionately calls him, he is a Catalogue of Life Knight. Paul also kindly agreed to fill in a short questionnaire about his database and his impressive achievement as an individual contributing a database of more than 38,000 species can be seen below.

Global Species Database name: Scarabs: World Scarabaeidae Database

Your name:  Paul Schoolmeesters

Your occupation and favourite hobby: Retired, Coprophagous Scarabs and travel

Where are the databases located? Belgium, Herent (my home)

What taxon/taxa do your databases cover? Scarabaeoidea (Lucanidae, Passalidae, Scarabaeidae etc.)

How many species names do you hold? 38266 and 2474 intraspecific species (23.03.2015)

How many synonyms? 15587

How many common names? 451

How and when did the database come about? Personal interest and meeting the late Frank Bisby at the beginning of Sp2000 in 1999 as inspiration
Paul Schoolmeesters

How many people work on the database? Only one

What software do you use? Microsoft Access

How complete is it? 99 % (I don't believe in 100%)

Is it continuing to grow and if so, how? Daily, new species, new synonyms, new distribution, new status, new combinations

Are there any interesting areas of taxonomic contention within your group? The different opinion of people on taxonomy (American versus European scientist)

Do you have a favourite species or group of taxa? Aphodiidae

What interested you in taxonomy? I regard this as a basis of the study of biodiversity and life

Do you think traditional taxonomy has a future? I hope so, unfortunately there is little interest from governmental side (collections no longer well financed or not at all, museums closing by lack of funding, staff lacking)

What is the most exciting recent taxonomic development in your group (if any)? Any revision is exciting, regarding the number of new species

If you had the funds what improvements (if any) would you make to the database? Expand the information

Why did you submit your data to the Catalogue of Life? I believe that the Catalogue of Life is essential to the community, and someone has to do it

What you would like to improve in the Catalogue of Life? Expansion of information

What message you would like to send the CoL users? Being more involved by comments

Do you submit to any other biodiversity aggregators than the Catalogue of Life? Not at the moment

Monday, 1 June 2015

GSD profile: Orthoptera Species File Online

Database Authors: MarĂ­a Marta Cigliano and Holger Braun

MM Cigliano: Principal Researcher (CONICET), Associate Professor Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP)

H Braun; Invited Professor, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP)

The orthoptera species file is based at Museo de La Plata, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina (and data management/server at University of Illinois)

The database covers the Order Orthoptera (grasshoppers, locusts, katydids, crickets, and related insects), worldwide both living and fossil.  In October 2013 it held 26200 valid species names and 4800 species name synonyms, 8500 taxon synonyms in total.  There are 1860 common names.
Pedellia ancashensis (c) MM Cigliano &
H Braun 2014

The original Orthoptera Species File (OSF) was an eight-volume printed catalogue by Daniel Otte, published 1994–2000. In 1997 Daniel Otte and Piotr Naskrecki posted the first version of Orthoptera Species File Online on the Internet, which contained the data for katydids, including numerous photographs). David Eades started to develop a new version of OSF along with sophisticated software that incorporates many requirements of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Since 2010, addition of most data is done at the Museo de La Plata, relying on Zoological Record and many other sources, as well as the contribution of users. All past and present development is accomplished in cooperation with the Orthopterists’ Society.

Two authors, a programmer, and two students work on the database.

It contains 99.9% of described species, citations to taxonomic references are 90-95% complete, 40% of the species have images, many of them photos of types and live individuals

It is continuously updated and completed, based on publications and information sent by orthopterists.

MM Cigliano’s favorite group are melanopline grasshoppers, because they can be found in a variety of habitats from grasslands at sea level up to high mountain environments. The interest is in the diversity of the Orthoptera group and the evolutionary hypothesis and biological questions that can be extracted based on the knowledge of the different taxonomic groups.

H Braun is fond of “little walking leaves”, leaf-mimicking katydids of neotropical rainforests of the tribe Pterochrozini, which in the future will be treated as subfamily, following findings of a recent molecular phylogeny indicating that they are sister group of all other Tettigoniidae.  General fascination for insects and in particular numerous undescribed katydid species found during an ecological survey in a mountain rainforest of south Ecuador.

Future taxonomy should integrate a cyber-taxonomy infrastructure to facilitate rapid identification of specimens, prepare species descriptions for publications, and make new data readily available on the Internet.

If additional funds were available it would be good to photograph type specimens in as many collections as possible, add additional images of diagnostic characters, collect distribution records to complete maps, travel around to take photographs of live individuals and find new species in unexplored areas.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Catalogue of Life 2015 - Catalogue of Life annual report summary from the Executive Editor

CoL Monthly editions

During 2014-15 year cycle, we released 12 monthly editions. You can find full report on each edition at The good news is that the CoL process had no interruptions during my move from Reading to Champaign in July 2014. Seven editions have been completed from the new location at the Illinois Natural History Survey. Notifications on each release were twitted via CoL Twitter at If you would like to receive regular notifications, please subscribe to CoL Twitter.