Friday, February 29, 2008's promotion of

In his recent contribution in SysTax, a German newsletter on German GBIF related activities (aka biodiversity databases that are hardly any longer funded), Martin Pfeiffer writes about

No, it is not about - but when you click on the link, or in fact anywhere on the first page, the home page of opens.

It is confusing, and to be honest, it was confusing from the begining, when Martin Pfeiffer publicized that he started, later renamed When I pointed out that there is already an he just replied he wasn't aware of it, but I guess, from my own experience, got hipped by such things as fishbase, flybase.... So much about Internet literacy.

But anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for this sort of unplanned PR.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Launch of

(For a formal release note see the biodivcontext blog) has on February 20, 2008 officially been released. It is the logic next step towards making published taxonomic information in a semantic Web environment accessible.

The goal is to contribute towards the ambitious goal to make all the original and subsequent descriptions of our species (and indeed higher taxa as well) part of a global (taxonomic) knowledge commons: Everybody from anywhere shall have access to this invaluable data. Access will be provide both for human and machine, and everything will be done, to make use of LSIDs and to consult with the respective communities and specialists to not only provide content, but a vehicle that can be used to explore and promote new technologies.

The project has been partially funded through a binational US National Science Foundation/ German Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft digital library grant, and more recently by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).

The power of the system lays in its ability to provide a dedicated XML editor allowing not only to mark-up the publications using the taxonomic literature specific TaxonX XML schema, but to enhance them with LSIDs for taxonomic names and bibliographic citations, and if available for specimens, CBOL sequences and more. As soon as ZooBank will be populated with the ant nomenclatorial data, links will be set up with the registry of zoological names. GoldenGate, the editor is modular and allows other communities to join the project and write applications allowing to retrieve LSID for their own taxa, such as fungi or plants.

This offers the unique chance to build up new catalogues using the mark-up process, where at the end all the names are registered with the respective databases, and all the descriptions are online accessible.

For ants, as of 2008, all the new ant systmatics publications will be marked up in Taxonx, the names added to the Hymenoptera Name Server where all the known names reside, and each of the descriptions will be accessible (e.g Probolomyrmex tani ) as full text, pdf or TaxonX documents. For copyrighted material, only the descriptions will be made accessible.

Depending on the resources, the publications can be marked up to very fine granularity, such that all the collecting events can be extracted (e.g. Linepithema humile). Older publications will be added as fast as our resources permit - or collaborators contribute.

All the descriptions are always linked to the original publications and a proper citation is provided to secure the origin of the data.

Anybody can contribute to the growth of this digital archive. The first training courses have been held in Brazil for spider and ant taxonomists. All the programs are open source, and the more people begin to use and help to develop, the more efficient we can populate the archive on

Currently, 3884 treatments are online avaialble, representing a large part of the Malagasy fauna, and more recent publications. Descriptions can be displayed in their original language.