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Standards and Database Documentation

An overriding goal of the ITIS project is to provide accurate, scientifically credible, and current taxonomic data that meet the needs of the ITIS partners and the user public. To accomplish this goal we have established a set of standards and guidelines. The initial version of ITIS includes National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC) data, with modifications. As groups are reviewed, quality indicators for credibility, completeness, and currency will be associated with each record. See the Data Development History and Quality Indicators page for more information. Potential contributors to ITIS are encouraged to view the ITIS Submittal Guidelines. ITIS welcomes suggestions and questions, and welcomes email feedback at

ITIS does not intend to serve as a forum for cutting-edge taxonomic classifications. Rather, ITIS is meant to serve as a standard to enable the comparison of biodiversity datasets, and therefore aims to incorporate classifications that have gained broad acceptance in the taxonomic literature and by professionals who work with the taxa concerned.

Data Standards

  • Data conform with the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, the International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria, and the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.
  • A seven kingdom system has been adopted as a standard. The kingdoms are Bacteria, Protozoa, Plantae, Fungi, Animalia, Chromista and Archaea.
  • Ranks in the animal kingdom below subspecies will not be included in ITIS regardless of their occasional inclusion in datasets, as these ranks are not allowed under the zoological code. The botanical code allows the ranks variety, subvariety, forma, and subforma.

ITIS Data Model

This document requires Adobe Reader softwareFor information on ITIS data semantics please see the ITIS Data Model. It provides information on entities, attributes, data requirements, and relationships between stored entities.

Link to the Adobe Website and the Adobe Reader

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