spacing image spacing image spacing image spacing image
The ITIS Logo The banner for the ITIS What's New page RSS Feed
spacing image

Select one of the following news items:


June 29, 2015 – Freshwater Mussels

ITIS has added a complete global dataset of Unionoida (freshwater mussels) to the ITIS database. The freshwater mussels are considered exceptional indicators of aquatic ecosystems health as they are dependent on good water quality. Mussels are planktivores and live in a wide range of habitats but are most frequently associated with moving waters. They often serve as food for fishes and other vertebrates. The greatest diversity of Unionoida are found in North America, yet many species are imperiled due to habitat destruction and degradation associate with human activities.

Kevin S. Cummings of the Illinois Natural History Survey and Daniel L. Graf of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point are the stewards for the group and provided ITIS with source data from their excellent, NSF funded MUSSELp database (http://mussel-project.uwsp.edu/about.html). David Mitchell, a USGS ITIS Taxonomic Specialist worked with the stewards to refine their export, and Alicia Hodson and Sara N. Alexander of the Smithsonian ITIS program helped proof the files. The ITIS Unionoida includes 6,374 scientific names, with 887 valid species - of which 302 are cited for North America. Over 5,850 of the Unionoida names are new to ITIS.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov.


June 29, 2015 – ITIS Updates Antlions of the World

ITIS has just added complete global species datasets of Myrmeleontidae (antlions) to the ITIS database. Myrmeleontid larvae typically have sickle-like jaws used when preying upon small arthropods, mainly ants. Antlions often occur in sandy habitats and have been called doodlebugs in North America because of the winding trails larvae leave in loose soil. Most species of antlions form sand pit traps by making a circular groove and crawling backwards to plow up and throw soil beyond the groove's perimeter until the pit is completed. The antlion larva settles underneath the soil at the bottom of the pit with only the jaws exposed waiting for prey to slip on the loose soil and down the walls of the pit.

The ITIS Myrmeleontidae update includes 1,666 species (with 99 species occurring in North America). The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Data Development assistance came from Sara N. Alexander and Ted R. Kahn of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program. The update was completed using Lionel Stange's Myrmeleontidae global catalog published in 2004, the most recent taxonomic literature, and with the guidance of the Neuropterida World Database put together by Professor John Oswald of Texas A&M University.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov.


June 8, 2015 – ITIS Gets Worms

USGS and its partners in the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) have added a substantial subset of the worms (oligochaetes & certain allies) of the world to the system. The update in total included 7,813 new and edited scientific names. The update is primarily based upon data sets provided by several cooperating specialists, combined and further vetted by United States Geological Survey (USGS) staff in ITIS. This remarkable list includes groups that are not typically compiled in a single project, with terrestrial, freshwater and marine coverage; most subgroups have global coverage, although a few have North American coverage. Taxonomic guidance was provided by the following experts:

Stuart Gelder - Branchiobdellida
Rüdiger Schmelz - Enchytraeidae
Sam James - Metagynophora
Mark J. Wetzel - freshwater oligochaetes of North America north of Mexico

Worms play major roles in promoting soil productivity, and by allowing air and moisture into the soil, they help minimize soil and nutrient runoff. The addition of these worms is a significant advance, pushing ITIS to over 690,000 scientific name records.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov.


May 1, 2015 – ITIS Updates Muroidea of the World

ITIS has added a complete global species dataset of Muroidea (rats, gerbils, hamsters, and related rodents) to the ITIS database. This superfamily of mammals is classified into 6 families per Musser and Carleton's Muroidea treatment in Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, 3rd ed (MSW3). Muroidea is the final taxonomic group ITIS has updated from the second edition of Mammal Species of the World. ITIS also added 63 new species described after the 2003 publication deadline of MSW3. One example is Paucidentomys vermidax Esselstyn, Achmadi and Rowe, 2012, a shrew-rat from Sulawesi Island that appears to be a specialized earthworm predator; this species has only two teeth and unlike most rats lacks molars for gnawing hard food.

The ITIS Muroidea update includes 1,591 species, with 86 species occurring in North America. The update work was coordinated by Sara Alexandar of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program. Data Development assistance came from Alicia Hodson and Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov.


April 30, 2015 – New Higher Level Classification of Life

Drs. Michael Ruggiero and Thomas Orrell of ITIS are co-authors on the new PLOS ONE paper 'A Higher Level Classification of All Living Organisms', which presents a new consensus view for classification of life from Superkingdom to Order. This seven-kingdom classification is "valuable as a reference for taxonomic and biodiversity research, as a tool for societal communication, and as a classificatory 'backbone' for biodiversity databases, museum collections, libraries, and textbooks". This consensus view has been partially implemented in ITIS, and ITIS will be creating more updates between Kingdom and Order to reflect this new management hierarchy. The Catalogue of Life (Catalogueoflife.org) also plans to implement the new hierarchy.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov.


April 9, 2015 – ITIS Updates Diatom Genera of the World

ITIS has added a complete global dataset of diatom genera to the ITIS database. Diatoms are algae with inorganic cell walls composed of hydrated silica. Abundant in almost every habitat where marine or freshwater is found, they form the base of aquatic food webs because they are a major food source for aquatic microorganisms.

The ITIS Diatom Genera update includes 373 accepted genera in Bacillariophyceae. The update work was coordinated by Dr. Ling Ren of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program. Data Development assistance came from Alicia Hodson and Sara Alexander of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program.

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov.


January 29, 2015 – ITIS Updates Strepsiptera of the World

ITIS has added a complete global species dataset of Strepsiptera (twisted-wing parasites) to the ITIS database. This order of insects parasitizes and grows within the abdomens of a variety of insects including bees, wasps, and leafhoppers. In total their hosts include insects in 7 orders and 34 families.

The ITIS Strepsiptera update includes 630 species, with 105 species occurring in North America. The update work was coordinated by Dr. Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Data Development assistance came from Alicia Hodson and Sara Alexander of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program. Taxonomic guidance was provided by Dr. Jeyaraney Kathirithamby (Oxford University, United Kingdom).

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov.


December 22, 2014 – ITIS Updates Fireflies of the World

ITIS has just added complete global species datasets of Lampyridae (fireflies, lightning bugs, glow worms) to the ITIS database. These conspicuous beetles are best known for their bioluminescence, which is the emission of light by a living organism. The flash patterns are part of their mating display that help male and females recognize each other. In southeastern Asia many species exhibit a synchronized flashing behavior, where males aggregate to create simultaneous flash patterns. In North America females of some species have a 'femme fatale' mimicry system. The female of one species will mimic the flash pattern of another species, luring males close enough to prey upon them and therefore acquiring defensive chemical compounds from the meal. Not all adult fireflies emit light. Some are diurnal and use chemical pheromones to communicate Fireflies are very susceptible to environmental degradation and are therefore excellent indicators of ecosystem health. Several citizen science projects, including the Vanishing Firefly Project and Firefly Watch, seek to monitor firefly populations in response to urbanization and pollution.

The ITIS Lampyridae update includes 2,250 species (with 127 species occurring in North America) and is one of the few unified world checklists of fireflies since Frank A. McDermott's catalog was published in 1966. The update work was coordinated by Dr. Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Data Development assistance came from Alicia Hodson and Sara Alexander of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program. Taxonomic guidance was also provided by:

Dr. Lesley A. Ballantyne (Charles Sturt University, Australia)
Dr. Santiago Zaragoza Caballero (Instituto de Biologia, UNAM, Mexico)
Dr. Marc Branham (University of Florida, Gainesville)
Dr. Sergey Kazantsev (Insect Centre, Moscow, Russia)
Dr. Ming-Luen Jeng (National Museum of Natural Sciences, Taiwan)
Dr. Milada Bocáková (Palacky University, Czech Republic)

Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov.


October 28, 2014 – ITIS Updates Dormice and Boas of the World

ITIS has added complete global species datasets of Gliridae (dormice) and boas and boa allies (Boidae, Calabariidae, Candoiidae, Charinidae, Erycidae, and Sanziniidae) to the ITIS database. The Gliridae is a family of Old World rodents with 29 species. Like many rodents dormice have acute auditory senses. Researchers recently determined that one species, Muscardinus avellanarius (Linnaeus, 1758), uses ultrasonic vocalizations for social communication. The dormice update follows the chapter on Gliridae in Mammal Species of the World, 3rd ed. by Mary Ellen Holden (Research Associate Vertebrate Zoology, Mammalogy, American Museum of Natural History). Snakes in the family Boidae are of special conservation concern, and one species is an established US invasive. All species in Boidae are listed in Appendix I or II of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), and several species are listed as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act. International pet trade has placed pressure on many wild populations, hence the listings. The Boa constrictor Linnaeus, 1758 is one of the non-native, giant constrictors established in southern Florida that threaten native species and ecosystems primarily through predation. As a consequence, the U.S. Congress is expected to rule on legislation that would restrict the sale and possession of these large constrictors that are injurious wildlife. The boa update was coordinated by Ted R. Kahn of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program, and with guidance from Dr. Roy W. McDiarmid, Research Zoologist from the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, who is Curator of North American Collections of Herpetology at the National Museum of Natural History. Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov.


September 4, 2014 – ITIS Updates Turtles and Bats of the World

ITIS has just added complete global species datasets of Testudines (turtles) and Chiroptera (bats) to the ITIS database. The turtles, with just over 330 species are a reptile group with conservation efforts in marine and freshwater environments; numerous turtle species are Threatened, Endangered or Critically Endangered. The turtle update follows the 2014 checklist from the Turtle Taxonomy Working Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and with direct guidance from Dr. Roy W. McDiarmid, Research Zoologist from the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, who is Curator of North American Collections of Herpetology at the National Museum of Natural History. The update work was coordinated by Ted R. Kahn of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program. There are approximately 1300 bat species, and some are important pollinators. Bats are the subject of increased conservation efforts, in part due to White-nose Syndrome, a fungus that is killing large numbers of bats in North America - at least 5.7 million since 2006. The bats were updated using Dr. Nancy Simmons' (Curator-in-Charge, Department of Mammalogy, Division of Vertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History) chapter on bats in Mammal Species of the World, 3rd ed., and with substantial input from major regional taxonomic works. The update includes new species published as recently as August 2014. The work was coordinated by Sara N. Alexander of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program with taxonomic guidance given by Dr. Al Gardner, Research Wildlife Biologist from the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and Curator of the National Collection of North American Mammals and Dr. Don Wilson, Curator Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution, Division of Mammals. Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov.


August 11, 2014 – Support for 7 Kingdoms Added to ITIS

We have added support for 7 kingdoms by dividing Monera into Bacteria and Archaea. We have also added support for intermediate ranks in Protozoa (Infrakingdom, Infraphylum, and Parvphylum), and new intermediate ranks in Plantae and Chromista (Infrakingdom, Superdivision, Infradivision, Parvdivision, and Infraclass). In cooperation with the Species2000 Catalogue of Life, this work is being done to support a consensus management hierarchy being developed by a panel of specialists covering global taxa down to the level of orders. Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov.


June 11, 2013 – New Taxon Compare Tool

We have updated the ITIS Taxon Compare Tool to a completely new version and have now released it for use. It allows you to compare a list of taxon names to the scientific names in ITIS, producing a list of ITIS data for matching names. The ITIS data includes TSN, Scientific Name, Rank, and Author. This is a complete rewrite of the old tool featuring better performance and more comparison options. You can access the Taxon Compare Tool through the Data Access and Tools menu, or at www.itis.gov/taxmatch.html.


May 17, 2013 – New ITIS Database Formats

In response to user requests, we have added ITIS database download files in PostgreSql and SQLite database formats. These new files contain the same data as our existing downloads, but formatted for their respective databases. The downloads also contain short Readme files with instructions for getting started with the database download.

ITIS now provides download files for Microsoft SQL Server, Informix, MySql, PostGreSql and SQLite. You provide the database software, and we provide the data. All our database download files are available on our download page at www.itis.gov/downloads

Note: As with all our database downloads, support for these files is limited to download problems and problems with the file format. Due to limited resources, ITIS Staff can't provide support for obtaining, installing or using any of the database applications supported by our file downloads.


February 20, 2013 – ITIS Web Service Update Adds JSON-P!

We have updated the ITIS Web Services again, this time to fix some minor bugs and add more new features. Chief among these are:

  • A bug that prevented the service from returning a TSN with the results of Search for Scientific Name has been fixed.
  • The ITIS services now include the Author name anywhere a Scientific Name is returned.
  • The JSON output service has been enhanced to support JSON-P calls.

The JSON service provides access to all the Web Service APIs, returning data in JSON format. JSON-P wraps the data in a JavaScript function to make usage even easier and safer for cross-domain access. Even better, you can specify the JavaScript function name when you make the Web Service call, so the result can be customized to what makes sense to you.

For details about using the JSON and JSON-P calls, see the Web Service Documentation.


January 31, 2013 – ITIS Databse Gets New Columns

We have updated the ITIS Database tables to add a number of new columns. These columns were originally added to make some functionality changes in the ITIS programming, but we feel they are helpful enough to release for everyone's use. The new columns are:

  • Taxonomic_units.complete_name – This is the complete scientific name for this TSN. It consists of all the unit name and unit indicator parts combined in the correct order. Complete_name can be helpful when searching for taxa by scientific name.
  • Taxonomic_units.name_usage – This is a duplicate of the current "usage" column. We are moving to the name usage terminology because it is more descriptive of the column's content and because usage is a SQL reserved word, which sometimes causes issues with database code. Note that the "usage" column is deprecated and will be removed in the future.
  • Taxon_authors_lkp.short_author – This is a duplicate of the author name column with certain punctuation removed. It is helpful when you are searching for an author whose name contains a different punctuation for different taxon names. The punctuation characters removed are parenthesis, commas and periods.
  • Hierarchy.TSN – This new column in the Hierarchy table gives the TSN for the hierarchy entry.
  • Hierarchy.Parent_TSN – This new column in the Hierarchy table gives the Parent TSN for the hierarchy entry.
  • Hierarchy.level – The level column gives the distance down the hierarchy from the kingdom. For example, TSN 51 – Schizomycetes – which is a Monera Class, has a level of 3.
  • Hierarchy.ChildrenCount - This new column shows how many total children a particular TSN has, from its direct children to the bottom of the hierarchy.
All these columns have been added to the end of the affected tables, so positional access to the original columns will still work. This could change and you should consider accessing data using the column names in the future.

We hope these database updates will be as useful for you as they have been for us.

For full ITIS database downloads, see the ITIS Downloads page.


Read About Other ITIS News Items

To News Topics

spacing image
spacing image spacing image spacing image spacing image