WoRMS, a global authoritative register of all marine species names
Added on 2008-04-25 10:37:22
VLIZ is involved in the creation of a World Register of Marine Species. In January 2008 we passed our first 100,000 species milestone.
There is still a huge amount of misinterpretation of species names, not to mention confusion over the Latin spellings, with people using different names for the same species and vice versa. Lack of standardisation in the use and spelling of taxonomic names is a serious problem when integrating data from different sources, or when trying to interpret information found in literature. VLIZ, in its efforts to integrate data from a vast number of data sets, is confronted with this problem on a daily basis. There is still no complete register of all marine species available today and getting a global coordination on species names becomes critical. For this reason, VLIZ, with support from MarBEF, joined forces with OBIS in compiling a World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS).
It is the VLIZ Aphia database, initially a local initiative to store and disseminate species information of the Belgian part of the North Sea, that now serves as the IT platform for WoRMS. Through Aphia several regional and global species databases are brought together in a single information system.
WoRMS is unique in that the world experts in marine species edit and validate the species names and associated information on line; at present over 100 experts from all over the world contribute.
WoRMS was launched in autumn 2007 and passed its first 100,000 species milestone a few weeks passed the end of 2007. Its next target is to have validated 200,000 species names by the end of 2008, of an estimated 230,000 believed to have been formally described.
Our task is two-fold – validating the names of known species, and keeping pace with new discoveries.
WoRMS is coordinated by a steering committee, co-chaired by Mark Costello and Edward Vanden Berghe. The technical facilities are developed and maintained at the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), by Bart Vanhoorne; and data management is coordinated by Ward Appeltans.
WoRMS is a contribution to Species2000 and the Catalogue of Life, and will serve as the taxonomic backbone of OBIS. WoRMS has also been accepted as one of the four GBIF campaigns.
Find out more on http://www.marinespecies.org