[Wikipedia-l] species directory

Gerard.Meijssen gerardm at myrealbox.com
Tue Aug 3 12:40:54 UTC 2004

Benedikt Mandl wrote:

>Dear Wikipedia-I readers!
>I am a graduate student of zoology at the University of Cambridge (though
>Austrian) and would like to share an idea for an urgent Wikipedia project. I
>contacted Jimbo Wales before and approach to you with his clear support for
>my idea.
>Biologists who classify new species normally publish in specialized esoteric
>journals, which has led to an overwhelming amount of information with nobody
>keeping an overview. Even experts in very specialized fields often don’t
>notice if a species has been formally recorded twice, three times or even
>more often. Therefore, it is not known how many species there are known –
>and this is just as ridiculous as it sounds. We are not talking about all
>species that EXIST on earth - but simply the total number of species that
>were already RECORDED in scientific publications. Nobody knows how many
>there are. Expert A might think that there are 17 000 annelids known, expert
>B believes to know about 20 000. This is because there is no central
>registration process and no database or reference directory to browse
>information about the current state of knowledge on a particular species. 
>This situation can be summarized with two statements:
>1.) A central, more extensive database for taxonomy is urgently needed. All
>their advantages are demonstrated strikingly by bases like www.wikipedia.org
>2.) A central, more extensive database for taxonomy is feasible. Wikipedia
>proved the technical feasibility; other existing species directories like
>www.fishbase.org or http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/index.html
>prove the need for this kind of a database and the willingness of 
>volunteers to make the commitment to contribute. 
>Based on these key statements, I define two major tasks:
>1.) Figure out how the contents of the data base would need to be presented
>– by asking experts, potential non-professional users and comparing that
>with existing data bases. My part.
>2.) Figure out how to do the software, which hardware is required and how to
>cover the costs – by asking experts, looking for fellow volunteers and
>potential sponsors.
>And this is why I really need Wikipedia. I am a zoologist. Animal stuff.
>There’s a lot of geeky-ness in me, but of the bug-kind rather then the
>tech-kind, and therefore, I need support on this side. Cambridge provides a
>pool of knowledge, experts and a good name for great scientific achievements
>– and Wikipedia has a big pool of passionate people who believe in the
>freedom of information and sharing knowledge. Wikipedia also has the skills
>of supporting my plans with the software that is required. The idea of this
>project is still very young, although others have tried similar things
>before. Alas, nobody has access to know-how and the passion of the WWW
>community to the extend that Wikipedia has it and that is required to
>Previous work with similar targets
>In molecular biology and genetics open databases for genes or proteins are
>already very important, only taxonomy, the most internet-related of all
>sciences, still lacks the advantages of an online network. Due to that lack,
>there are already some databases that tried to establish species
>directories. The most important ones are “Integrated Taxonomic Information
>System” (www.it is.usda.gov/) focusing on species of North America and its
>European equivalent Species 2000 (www.sp2000.org/). Both directories try to
>connect other, existing databases to an integrated unit. Furthermore, there
>are ambitious commitments by the “ALL Species Foundation”
>(http://www.all-species.org/) with much ado about almost nothing, a small
>but charming database from the University of Michigan
>http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/index.html) and other, partly
>commercial directories. All these websites have some things in common: They
>lack of funding, are mismanaged, created for experts and scientists, limited
>to a particular group of species or a region, or face other difficulties. To
>put it in a nutshell: There is a need for www.wikispecies.org! 
>Please support this idea. I am highly motivated to work on this project. I
>hope that a lot of passion for it will develop in others, there is already a
>lot in me. Thank you very much in advance. Kind regards,
>Benedikt M. Mandl
>Department of Zoology
>Downing Street 
>Cambridge CB2 1ST 
>United Kingdom
>benedikt.mandl at gmx.at

One resource that is missing in your list is www.ipni.org. Ipni has a database with all published plants from the family downwards. It is a colaboration of three universities  and their database reflects all changes as they are made. The database is almost complete... Their next step will be the possibility to have the "great unwashed" contribute to the database. (they published their intention

If anything, it is a model to copy for animals. Probably we might cooperate on the software.

A directory of names, you want to name them all or/and, do you want to reflect what current thinking is on names?

By the way this might prove valuable.

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