ITIS data are now available through the newly implemented ITIS Web Services, which are now on line and publically accessible. These services connect to the data behind http://www.itis.gov, providing programmatic access to the data through an internet connection.
The ITIS Web Services provide the ability to search and retrieve data from ITIS. Each component of the web services is provided through a web service API, which defines the name, input to, and output from the service for a particular data request.
A description page lists all the ITIS Web Service APIs with a description that includes the information provided by the API, the input needed to get data from the API, and the data that are returned by the API.
The web services may be accessed at: http://www.itis.gov/ITISWebService/
Here are some sample links so you can see how the web services work:Get the full taxonomic record for TSN 180543
Get the full taxonomic hierarchy for TSN 178265
Search for scientific names containing “ursidae”
Search for common names ending with “bear”
The full WSDL (Web Services Description Language) for the services can be obtained at:http://www.itis.gov/ITISWebService/services/ITISService?wsdl
time for National Pollinator Week, June 22 through June 28, biologists
have completed an online effort to compile a world checklist of bees.
They have identified nearly 19,500 bee species worldwide, about 2,000
more than previously estimated. There is a current crisis known as
“colony collapse disorder,” an unexplained
phenomenon that is wiping out colonies of honey bees throughout the
United States. This has highlighted the need for more information about
bee species and their interactions with the plants they pollinate.
& ITIS Catalogue of Life has reached one million
species - a major milestone in its quest to complete the first
up-to-date comprehensive catalogue of all living organisms. The
Catalogue of Life, available on CD and on the Internet
is the result of a worldwide collaboration
involving so far about 50 contributing databases and the work of 3,000
biologists. The project plans to cover all estimated 1.75 million known
species by 2011.
ITIS has been included in Thomson ISI's "Current Web Contents", a value added section of its Current Contents Connect product. The selection was based on meeting the rigorous standards of their editorial staff for: Authority, Accuracy, Currency, Navigation and Design, Applicability and Content, Scope, Audience Level, and Quality of Writing. Thomson ISI is now the owner of BIOSIS.
On December 19, 2003 — in Washington, DC; Reading, United Kingdom; and Copenhagen, Denmark — the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), Species 2000, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), respectively, signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to build the Catalog of Life. The Memorandum provides a basis for mutual support, access, and use of the Catalog of Life, a collaborative effort to provide a coherent and authoritative view on the taxonomy of the 1.75 million known species of living organisms on Earth. The unified catalog is fundamental to such important tasks as developing worldwide conservation strategies and understanding invasive species. With its planned coverage of plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms, the program hopes to achieve one of the more elusive goals of modern biology, a total listing of all described species. ITIS and Species 2000 will develop, review, improve, and maintain the Catalog of Life and provide it through electronic networks and on CD-ROM. GBIF will use the Catalog of Life as an index to make the world's biodiversity data freely and universally available via the Internet and other international electronic networks. GBIF encourages, coordinates, and supports the development of worldwide capacity to access the vast amount of biodiversity data held in natural history museum collections, libraries, and biodiversity databases. ITIS is a partnership of several federal agencies (including the USGS), the Smithsonian Institution, NatureServe, Mexico, and Canada and is a vital component of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII).
This agreement follows an earlier Memorandum of Understanding, signed by ITIS and Species 2000 representatives on October 6, 2003, for a cooperative operational framework to develop, scientifically review the content of, continuously improve, and maintain the Species 2000 and Integrated Taxonomic Information System Catalog of Life. The Catalog of Life is accessible at http://www.catalogueoflife.org/annual-checklist.
World species of Mullidae (goatfishes) have been added to or updated in ITIS based on W.N. Eschmeyer's (ed.) Catalog of Fishes version 13 March 2003.
As of April 2003, the ITIS database schema and/or data element definitions have been changed as follows:
A prototype ITIS Metadata Tool has been added as an option to the Compare Taxonomy/Nomenclature functionality to enable generation of a component of the FGDC Biological Profile with SGML output. It is currently based on an input file of scientific names only. The prototype will be enhanced in the coming months. The tool is available at Compare Taxonomy/Nomenclature.
Chaetodontidae (butterflyfishes) and Pomacanthidae (angelfishes) of the world have been updated in ITIS based on W. N. Eschmeyer's (ed.) Catalog of Fishes of 2000.
A world list of parasitoid wasps of the superfamily Ceraphronoidea has been added to ITIS. This work by Norm Johnson is supported by a National Science Foundation PEET Program (Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy) grant.
NatureServe, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing knowledge to protect the environment, has joined the ITIS partnership. Through an international network comprising natural heritage programs and conservation data centers in all U.S. states, Canada, and Latin America, NatureServe improves understanding of biodiversity by developing, analyzing, and distributing essential information about rare and endangered plants, animals, and threatened ecosystems. NatureServe can be reached at http://www.natureserve.org.
A new ITIS report has been developed that consolidates data attributes formerly available from several other, more targeted ITIS reports. The new ITIS Standard Report provides the general user a 'one stop' location to view ITIS taxon data. Data categories, (when data are available), include:
The search facility for the ITIS Standard Report is conveniently available directly from the ITIS Home Page as well as the ITIS Standard Report page. Older ITIS reports remain available from the ITIS Data Access menu.
In collaboration with Russell Kreis, US Environmental Protection Agency, and J. Patrick Kociolek, California Academy of Sciences, ITIS has added a list of diatoms of the Great Lakes. ITIS also has updated the Odonata based on the work of Rosser Garrison, L.A. County Agricultural Commissioner's Office.
In collaboration with Norm Johnson, Department of Entomology,
Museum of Biological Diversity, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, a
complete list of ant subspecies was added to ITIS.
Canadian, Mexican, and U.S. ITIS partners announced the availability of two new taxonomy websites at the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation in Guadalajara, Mexico, on June 22, 2001. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), the Mexican National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO), and US ITIS jointly launched two new web sites for the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS): a Spanish version for Mexico (SIIT*mx), and a trilingual (English, French, Spanish) version for North America (ITIS*na).
The ITIS North America web site provides basic scientific information on the nomenclature, taxonomy, and common names in English, French and Spanish, of large numbers of life forms. It also acts as a gateway to additional information by providing users with an innovative "Internet Search Portal". This portal automatically uses ITIS information to boost the relevance of specific queries in several major Internet search engines. It also facilitates access to other specialized databases in such areas as biotechnology, genomics, botany, entomology, bibliographies, or to numerous collections of biological specimen and observation data. The site has additional links to Species 2000 and Global Biodiversity information Facility (GBIF) web sites.
The ITIS North America web site is accessible at: http://www.cbif.gc.ca/itis/.
More than 30 scientists from North America, Europe, and Japan met during June 5-7, 2001 in Reading, England to plan the achievement of one of the more elusive goals in modern biology: the creation of a unified catalog of the 1.75 million known species of living organisms on earth. Such a catalog is fundamental to tasks such as developing worldwide conservation strategies or understanding invasive species from other continents. With its planned coverage of plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms, the programme has been dubbed the 'Catalog of Life'.
The two main organizations working on the task are North America's Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), and Species 2000, a global network based in the UK and Japan. The significance of the Reading workshop is that after the success of a CD-ROM prototype containing data from both organizations released in April, they are now joining forces to tackle the job together. The workshop was jointly funded by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Biological Resources Division of the US Geological Survey (USGS).
ITIS and the Species 2000 member organizations have already collated basic reference data on 250,000 species, and plan to reach 500,000 by 2003. The group now extends a public invitation to partner organizations in the scientific community and to appropriate funding sources to join the effort to complete the Catalog of Life within ten years.
The workshop produced a series of actions required to overcome the scientific and technological hurdles, notably in biodiversity informatics and in taxonomic knowledge management. "It's mostly a matter of disciplined organization and locating sufficient expertise on each group of organisms", said Michael Ruggiero, Director of ITIS, and zoologist with the USGS. Species 2000 Chair Frank Bisby, Professor of Botany at the University of Reading, likened the challenge to the recent mapping of the human genome, "Like the genome project, the Catalog of Life is becoming a flagship for the biodiversity community".
The biodiversity informatics tools to be developed include interoperative systems to bring together data from sources around the world, and database 'workbench' tools to speed up the creation of the catalog itself. Another priority is developing better ways of dealing with different classifications of the same groups of organisms. All of these tools have to be integrated with processes for keeping the system up-to-date as the taxonomy changes through time.
In his guest lecture Hannu Saarenmaa from the European Environment Agency
stressed the need to make the Catalog of Life available as an infrastructure
embedded within the Internet. Christoph Haeuser, chair of the newly formed
Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and Chris Lyal, programme
officer of the Global Taxonomy Initiative of the Convention on Biological
Diversity, both emphasized the fundamental need for a global taxonomic
framework and species catalog against which all biodiversity information
can be referenced.
The US ITIS site has been updated with a new look and feel. The design update includes a new logo that is now in use among the ITIS international partners. The ITIS Query and Reports have been consolidated on a single page. Also many informational pages throughout the site have been updated. Take some time and explore the updated site.
In collaboration with Mexico's Comision Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad, a complete list of Mexican amphibians and reptiles was added to ITIS.
In collaboration with Norman Johnson, Department of Entomology, Museum of Biological Diversity, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, ITIS has added the complete list of ant species of the world. The complete list of subspecies will be added soon, followed by the synonymy.
On March 1, ITIS became a founding Associate Member of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and attended its inaugural Governing Board Meeting on March 9-11. The international consortium's goal is to provide worldwide access, via the Internet to information about the 1.8 million known species that inhabit the earth. For more information about GBIF, go to the GBIF website at http:www.gbif.org.
In response to requests from ITIS users, the ability to download data based upon selected search criteria is now available. The selected database items may be downloaded in the following formats:
On September 17, 1999, the ITIS*ca web site went public. This new new bilingual (English/French) web site is a significant step forward in the advancement of the North American ITIS partnership, initiated in 1998. It provides alternative access to and views of the standardized taxonomic data managed within the Integrated Taxonomic Information System. The web site also symbolizes the successful collaboration, both on technology and data content, that has developed among the ITIS partners. To read the announcement of the new ITIS*ca web site click the USGS newsrelease.
Information about changes to the ITIS database to accommodate a restructuring of ITIS references have been posted on the ITIS Standards and Database Documentation page.
ITIS is highlighted in a feature article in Access America Online
Magazine. The article is entitled:
On June 15-18, 1998, several US participants in the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) partnership met in Ottawa, Canada with taxonomists and information technology staff from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to discuss the future of an international ITIS. (A picture and a complete list of participants are available). Both parties enthusiastically agreed to work together in a formal partnership to enhance ITIS for the future. This merger of credible taxonomic information from experts of both countries will further support a continually accessible, authoritative North American source of information on the presence or absence of species occurring on the continent and in adjacent oceans.
The Eastern Cereal and Oilseed Research Centre's (ECORC) Biological Resources Program which hosted the meetings, has Canada's largest concentration of taxonomists qualified to provide, interpret and manage these data. Dr. Jim McKenzie, Manager of the Biological Resources Program at ECORC, said "the partnership with ITIS-US will accelerate AAFC's ability to make information available to a wider range of user needs in a more cost effective manner and will ensure that Canada's particular interests are met."
The Integrated Taxonomic Information System has been recognized in The
Scout Report, a weekly electronic report of high quality websites
of interest to researchers and educators. ITIS is recognized as being
an "efficient system for naming and classifying all of nature's living
organisms." It is further characterized as being an "extraordinary and
ambitious effort" in the current issue of the Report (May 8, 1998;Volume
5 No. 2) in its review of websites in Research and Education.
April 1998 - Pounding Out Differences, ITIS Takes Hammer
ITIS, the Integrated Taxonomic Information System partnership, received a prestigious national award for successfully completing a major project aimed at providing easy access to the first credible database of scientific names of organisms in North America and its adjacent waters. The system also offers information on the origin and general distribution of these biological species.
Vice President Al Gore's Hammer Award was given to the ITIS partner agencies for bringing ITIS from concept to reality. The Hammer Award is the Vice President's special recognition for teams who have made significant contributions toward improving government's service to the American people. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt presented the award at a special ceremony in the Main Interior Building, 1849 C Street, NW, in Washington, DC, at 2:30 p.m., on Tuesday, April 21.
Six federal agencies worked together to foster and modernize the system for naming nature's living organisms: the US Geological Survey, the EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (including the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Oceanographic Data Center), the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Agricultural Research Service and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet," said Juliet to Romeo in an impassioned speech. But Gary Waggoner, a pragmatic scientist, is quick to point out that not all roses are scented, so the Bard's sentiment was sweeter than his science. Waggoner, a scientist at the USGS Center for Biological Informatics in Denver, Colo., is one of the leaders of an award-winning interagency team that has been working on standardizing scientific names for several years. Other leaders were Roy McDiarmid of USGS, Barbara Lamborne and Steve Young with EPA, Scott Peterson and Wendell Oaks from NRCS and Bruce Collette and Linda Stathoplos of NOAA.
The Vice President's National Partnership for Reinventing Government identified ITIS as a program that will contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of government and its partnerships by reducing the confusion and misinformation that arise when people are unsure what each other is talking about -- or when they don't know that an animal or plant is known by several names. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt said it is hard to "exaggerate the importance of taxonomy to biologists and those who manage biological resources. The scientific names of organisms are the framework that allows us to connect all biological information. Taxonomy provides the foundation for understanding and integrating the similarities and differences among the world's organisms, both living and extinct."
Each partnering agency has a mission to inventory, monitor, research or manage biological resources. This creates a common need for a vocabulary shared through taxonomy, the science of describing, naming and classifying plants and animals. Taxonomic nomenclature provides the most fundamental building block for information sharing on biological resources: the scientific name.
ITIS, says Waggoner, is a grand new tool in the arsenal of environmental research, and for the first time is enabling the scientific community, resource managers, and the general public to have a common vocabulary of species at their fingertips in an online database."It is a deceptively simple notion," Waggoner said. "All we're aiming for is a unified way of naming the `things' of nature. Good science depends on every party in a discussion getting the message right."
There is a major effort being put forth among scientists and property managers to inventory plants and animals so that there is a reliable measure of existing populations. The need, said Lamborne, is to be able to document changes factually, not simply through speculation and guesswork. "Fundamental to this process is standardized terminology through which we can identify, describe and name what we are discussing," Lamborne said. "Taxonomy has an honored history in science," McDiarmid said, "but the time had come to make this technical specialty more accessible to a broad public and scientific audience. We are proud that we have been able to accomplish all that we have and believe it will make an important contribution in understanding the array of life forms that share our globe with us. Questions of taxonomy will help us define what is native and what has invaded and how numerous each are." Applying the ITIS system, said Peterson, can also help both crop and stock farmers identify hazards to their fields, the fishing industry to define the population dynamics of commercial species, and environmental managers to assess the health of natural systems.
Waggoner and his associates also provided the staff support and direction for the multi-agency development of ITIS.
At its Spring 1997 meeting in Silver Spring, Maryland, the Steering Committee of the Interagency Taxonomic Information System voted to change the name of the Interagency Taxonomic Information System to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System, retaining the acronym ITIS. This change was determined to be necessary for several reasons:
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