An introduction to the Catalogue of Life

The Catalogue of Life project has been based at Reading University for around 15 years now.  It delivers a taxonomically edited and reviewed view of the list of species on Earth under their scientific names.  It also has some information on common names, distribution and some other features of each species.  Currently the catalogue includes over 1.3 million accepted species and some of their synonyms.  It also tells you which source has provided the initial data about the species.

The Catalogue is used in most of the World’s countries via direct internet access but we also send out over 2000 DVD ROM editions of the catalogue, many to countries with poor or limited internet access.  This includes Chad, North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Nauru, Republic of Moldova, San Marino, Sierra Leone and Turkmenistan  all of whom do not use the web available version.

Country-by-country visits to Catalogue of Life during 2012

Country-by-country visits to Catalogue of Life during 2012 with a list of countries that did not generate any visits

Currently the catalogue is built primarily with funding from the i4Life project under EC Framework 7 e-infrastructures.  Although coverage approaches 70% of the world’s known species we still have many gaps.  Later there will be a blog to cover our gap analysis.  We still need data on about 600 000 known species!


About Alastair Culham

A professional botanist and biologist with an interest in promoting biological knowledge and awareness to all.
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