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December 19, 2019 - Three Spider Families Updated (Agelenidae, Lycosidae, and Pisauridae)

The family Agelenidae, also known as funnel-web spiders, includes the grass spiders of North America that commonly build horizontal sheet webs on bushes and grass. It also includes the giant house spider Eratigena atrica (C. L. Koch, 1843), which can have a legspan of up to 4 inches, and the hobo spider Eratigena agrestis (Walckenaer, 1802), which has been rumored to deliver necrotizing venom with its bite (though this is uncertain). Both species are native to Europe and have been introduced to North America.

Wolf spiders of the family Lycosidae do not spin webs, but hunt by running down their prey. Two of their eyes are distinctly larger than the other six, which distinguishes them from Pisauridae. They have excellent eyesight, and at night their eyes will reflect eyeshine. Females exhibit strong maternal care: a mother wolf spider will carry her egg sac in her spinnerets, and when the babies hatch they will ride on her back (the length of time varies between species, from several hours to a few days to more than two weeks (Eason, 1964)). In 2000, South Carolina designated the Carolina wolf spider, Hogna carolinensis (Walckenaer, 1805) as their state spider. They were the first state to designate a spider as an official state symbol.

Nursery web spiders of the family Pisauridae are named for their maternal care. A mother spider will carry her egg sac in her chelicerae, weave a protective tent of silk around it, and stand guard over the hatchlings. Pisaura mirabilis (Clerck, 1757) are notable for their courtship behavior: males dramatically increase their reproductive success by offering females a silk-wrapped gift of food, but will sometimes (6 out of 16 gifts in one study) try to deceive her with a nutritionally worthless gift (like a bit of plant or empty insect carcass). Males that offer worthless gifts mate about as often, but for less time, as males that offer nutritionally valuable gifts, disadvantaging the deceitful males in sperm competition (Albo et al., 2011).

Together, these three families include 4,110 species worldwide, of which 378 are found in North America. The update comprises 4,858 new and edited names, of which 855 are new to ITIS.

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


November 26, 2019 - Symphyla Global Coverage Added

Known as pseudocentipedes or garden centipedes, members of Class Symphyla are small (0.2-1.2 cm in length), soil-dwelling arthropods that have no pigment and no eyes. Species Scutigerella immaculata (Newport, 1845) is a common agricultural pest that feeds on seedlings, roots, and tubers; it has been introduced widely and is nearly cosmopolitan.

Class Symphyla includes 235 species, of which 28 are cited for North America; this update comprises 315 new and edited names. As no recent, comprehensive treatment existed, the current ITIS treatment is a synthesis of partial lists (over 100 publications, covering national lists, regional lists, revisions of particular genera, and so on) combined into a coherent whole. 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.

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


November 26, 2019 - Fish Genus Percina Updated

Roughbelly darters (genus Percina Haldeman, 1842), some of which are known as logperches, are small freshwater fish native to North America. The genus includes 49 species. In 2018, the Chesapeake Logperch, Percina bimaculata Haldeman, 1844, was targeted for conservation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, with a team of other conservation agencies, will receive a two-year grant of nearly $40,000 to preserve its habitat in the Susquehanna River basin and hopefully save it from being listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The treatment is based on the work of Bill Eschmeyer, primary author of the Catalogue of Fishes, maintained as a website hosted by the California Academy of Sciences, and was adapted for the ITIS update by Dr. Thomas Orrell.

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


November 26, 2019 - Three Spider Families Updated (Pholcidae, Salticidae, and Theridiidae)

Spiders of family Pholcidae have extremely long and thin legs; they are commonly known as cellar spiders or daddylongleg spiders (not to be confused with arachnids of order Opiliones, which are sometimes also called daddy longlegs). The family includes 1,728 species worldwide, of which 44 are found in North America. The update comprises 1,901 new and edited names, of which 732 are new to ITIS.

Salticidae are the jumping spiders. The largest family of spiders, Salticidae contains 6,134 species worldwide (of which 342 are found in North America); about 13% of all spider species. Males of genus Maratus Karsch, 1878, known as peacock spiders, are known for bright colors and flashy courtship displays. Video of the courtship display of Maratus speciosus (O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1874) can be watched on YouTube. The update comprises 7,615 new and edited names, of which 1,709 are new to ITIS.

Family Theridiidae, known as cobweb spiders, are commonly found in human dwellings throughout the world. It includes the infamous black widow spiders of the United States: the Western Black Widow Latrodectus hesperus Chamberlin & Ivie, 1935, Southern Black Widow L. mactans (Fabricius, 1775), and Northern Black Widow L. variolus Walckenaer, 1837. The family includes 2,488 species worldwide, of which 246 are found in North America. The update comprises 2,775 new and edited names, of which 320 are new to ITIS.

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


November 06, 2019 - Tick Global Coverage Added

Ticks are among the most important vectors of disease affecting humans, livestock, and wildlife; they transmit a greater variety of infectious agents to humans and domestic animals than any other arthropod vector. Worldwide, ticks (Order Ixodida) encompass three families: the Ixodidae or 'hard ticks', the Argasidae or 'soft ticks', and the monotypic Nuttalliellidae. The current update adds 958 accepted species globally, 78 of which are found in North America.

The update was completed with the guidance and help of world tick expert Rich Robbins. He talks ticks in this recent article in the Smithsonian Torch (29 March 2019), entitled 'Everything you ever wanted to know about ticks, but were afraid to ask'.

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


November 06, 2019 - Cetacean (Whales and Dolphins) Global Coverage Updated

ITIS' worldwide update of the 90 species of whale and dolphin worldwide is based on two current sources: the Society for Marine Mammalogy's 2018 list, and the 2018 Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals, 3rd edition (Würsig et al. [eds,] 2018), with guidance and assistance from Smithsonian expert Jim Mead. The current update includes 539 edited names, 30 of which are new to ITIS. One newly added taxon is the recently described species of beaked whale Berardius minimus Yamada, Kitamura and Matsuishi in Yamada, Kitamura, Abe, Tajima, Matsuda, Mead and Matsuishi, 2019.

The baiji - Lipotes vexillifer Miller, 1918, a freshwater dolphin found in China - has likely gone extinct in the last couple of decades. The Society for Marine Mammalogy lists it as 'possibly extinct' to match its status as given by the IUCN Red List, but adds 'extinction seems a certainty.' It was declared extinct by an advocacy organization in 2007. A rumor of the species' survival surfaced in 2016, which was met with both joy and skepticism. Over a dozen other cetacean species are considered Endangered or Critically Endangered.

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


November 06, 2019 - Arachnid Hierarchy Updated

This update of hierarchy within Chelicerata, with focus on Arachnida, has three major aspects.

  1. Addition of class Euchelicerata for Arachnida+Xiphosura (those names now accepted at subclass rank to accommodate it).
  2. Addition of global hierarchy of Arachnida to family, following the ongoing work of Ruggiero et al.
  3. Update of Oribatida (the order of beetle mites) to genus, following Subias' World Catalog for this group, which is hosted by Biología y Biodiversidad de Artrópodos. Further updates are underway to bring the species and subspecific rank names up to date as well.

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


September 30, 2019 - Amphibian Global Coverage Updated

Amphibians - including frogs, toads, salamanders, and caecilians - are the most threatened vertebrate class on earth: according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 40% of amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Amphibians form a vital part of many ecosystems (West, 2018), ingesting invertebrate pests, providing a source of food for predators, circulating matter and energy between aquatic and terrestrial environments. They have long been looked to as indicator species of ecosystem health; while they may not be the group most acutely sensitive to all pollutants, their "noted sensitivities to ultra-violet light, habitat destruction, disease, and climate change […] give a comprehensive picture of the global environment that we need to consider." (Kaplan, 2009). Potential medical benefits include insights into tissue regeneration, and potential production of pharmaceutically useful compounds.

The largest amphibians in the world are the Chinese Giant Salamander - Andrias davidianus (Blanchard, 1871) - and the Japanese Giant Salamander - Andrias japonicus (Temminck, 1836).

This update was made possible by Darrel Frost and the American Museum of Natural History, and based on a data set provided by Amphibian Species of the World. It includes 8,054 valid species (as well as 14,523 synonymous names at species and subspecies ranks). Of the valid species, 287 are found in North America. In total, the update comprises 24,069 new and/or edited names, 13,337 of which are new to ITIS.

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


September 30, 2019 - Marchantiophyta (Liverworts) Global Coverage Updated

Commonly known as liverworts or hepatics because of the flattened, lobed shape of some thalloid species, Marchantiophyta is a division of non-vascular land plants. A conspicuous component of many ecosystems worldwide, liverworts are distinguished from mosses by their dorsi-ventral orientation (perpendicular to sunlight), inoperculate (lidless) capsules, and unicellular rhizoids (root-like structures), among other characteristics (Glime, 2017).

The current update derives from a data set acquired from the Early Land Plants Today (ELPT) project in 2018, and was implemented with the help of experts Anders Hagborg, Lars Söderström, and Matt von Konrat. This update includes 7,466 accepted species, 629 of which are found in North America; and comprises 10,266 new and/or edited names, 8,239 of which are new to ITIS.

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


September 30, 2019 - Global Snakes Update Reaches Completion

Over the last few years, ITIS has undertaken a full global update of its coverage of suborder Serpentes (snakes). Progress included one family updated in 2014 (Boidae), one in 2016 (Homalopsidae), three in 2017 (Tropidophiidae, Elapidae, and Viperidae), one in 2018 (Colubridae, with subfamily Natricinae), and four previously in 2019 (Pythonidae, and three in superfamily Uropeltoidea).

This update provides global coverage for infraorder Scolecophidia, comprising five families of blind snakes (Anomalepididae, Gerrhopilidae, Leptotyphlopidae, Typhlopidae, and Xenotyphlopidae.)

Blind snakes are small, fossorial (adapted to digging) snakes that can typically grow up to a meter long. Some species lack eyes; other species' eyes may be rudimentary and appear to be pigment spots on the skin. Family Leptotyphlopidae contains what is believed to be the smallest species of snake in the world; at just four inches long, Leptotyphlops carlae Hedges, 2008 is thought to have reached the lower size boundary for snakes, as it is capable of producing only one egg and its offspring hatch at one-half the length of adults (Hedges, 2008).

In Scolecophidia there are 457 accepted species, 5 of which are found in North America. The Scolecophidia update is comprised of 1,120 new and/or edited names, 748 of which are new to ITIS.

To complete Serpentes this update also touches 11 valid/accepted species across six small families (<5 species per family): Acrochordidae (Wart Snakes), Aniliidae (False Coral Snakes), Bolyeriidae (Mauritius Snakes), Loxocemidae (Mexican Pythons), Xenopeltidae (Sunbeam Snakes), and Xenophidiidae (Spine-jawed Snakes). These families are comprised of 36 new and/or edited names, 9 of them new to ITIS.

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


August 28, 2019 - Insect Family Capniidae Global Coverage Added

Also known as 'small winter stoneflies' or 'snowflies', Capniidae is one of the largest families of Plecoptera, comprising 296 accepted species distributed through the Holarctic. Adults generally emerge in the winter or early spring, and are often seen walking across snow. Adult winter stoneflies possess the ability to supercool (cool to temperatures below the freezing point without crystallization and harm); nymphs survive winter temperatures by emerging in air pockets between water bodies and surface ice, where temperatures are more stable and do not reach much below freezing.

The update is largely based on the 2019 version of Plecoptera Species File database by DeWalt, Maehr, Hopkins, Nei-Becker and Stueber.

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


August 28, 2019 - Four Snake Families (Anomochilidae, Cylindrophiidae, Uropeltidae, Pythonidae) Updated

Snake superfamily Uropeltoidea comprises families Anomochilidae (Dwarf Pipe Snakes), Cylindrophiidae (Asian Pipe Snakes), and Family Uropeltidae (Shield-tailed Snakes). These enigmatic families of snakes are fossorial or semi-fossorial (burrowing) and are found in Southeast Asia. The three families comprise 73 accepted species. The current update includes 142 edited species, 63 of which are new to ITIS.

Family Pythonidae includes 40 accepted species, and is found in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Australia (Barker et al., 2015). It includes the longest species of snake on earth, the reticulated python, which can reach lengths of 33 feet. Various species are popular in the pet trade. The species Python bivittatus Kuhl, 1820 started out as a popular pet species but is now threatening the Florida Everglades ecosystem.

The update is largely based on the 2019 version of Reptile Database by Uetz and Hosek.

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


June 27, 2019 - Centipede Order Geophilomorpha Global Coverage Added, Completing Update of All Centipedes

Centipede order Geophilomorpha includes families Geophilidae (651 species), Gonibregmatidae (24 species), Himantariidae (63 species), Mecistocephalidae (174 species), Oryidae (47 species), Schendylidae (310 species), and Zelanophilidae (7 species); for a total of 1,276 valid species worldwide (making it the largest centipede order). Species in this order are long and slender, with 27 to 191 pairs of legs (always an odd number of pairs). Species of note include the troglomorphic Geophilus hadesi Stoev, Akkari, Komericki, Edgecombe and Bonato, 2015 and Geophilus persephones Foddai and Minelli, 1999, true troglobites that live exclusively in deep caves; a specimen of G. hadesi discovered in a vertical cave between -980 and -1,100 meters represents the world's deepest record of Chilopoda.

The update is largely based on the 2016 treatment in ChiloBase 2.0 - A World Catalogue of Centipedes (Chilopoda), with additional updates to cover up to the present, and is part of an ongoing project to provide worldwide coverage of Chilopoda. 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.

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


June 27, 2019 - Wasp Families Ampulicidae and Heterogynaidae Updated

Family Ampulicidae - known as cockroach wasps - comprises 204 accepted species worldwide, 4 of which are cited for North America. The family was initially added to ITIS in 2008; this update added the complete synonymy from Wojciech Pulawski's online 'Catalog of Sphecidae' as well as bringing the treatments up-to-date.

Wasp larvae often live as parasites on prey that eventually kill after feeding on the host little by little. Wasps of family Ampulicidae are entomophagous parasitoids, feeding their young on live cockroaches. One species in particular, the emerald cockroach wasp Ampulex compressa (Fabricius, 1781) is famous for turning its cockroach prey into a 'zombie' via injection of a stupefying neurotoxin directly into precise regions of the brain. A species newly added to ITIS with this update, Ampulex dementor Ohl, 2014, was named after the Dementors of 'Harry Potter' fame, by popular vote among 300 visitors at a 2012 museum event in Berlin.

Heterogynaidae is a small and enigmatic family of wasps, comprising only 9 species worldwide; the most recent was described in 2017.

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


May 30, 2019 - Centipede Order Scolopendromorpha Global Coverage Added

Centipede order Scolopendromorpha includes families Scolopendridae (397 species), Cryptopidae (189 species), Scolopocryptopidae (90 species), Plutoniumidae (7 species), and Mimopidae (2 species); for a total of 685 valid species worldwide, of which 24 are found in North America. Chilopods in this order are likely the centipedes that most members of the public would recognize as a 'centipede'. Scolopendra gigantea Linnaeus, 1758 is one of the largest centipedes in the world; it can grow up to 30 cm (12 inches) long, and has been known to feed on vertebrates like bats, frogs, and rats.

The update is based on the treatment in ChiloBase 2.0 - A World Catalogue of Centipedes (Chilopoda), and is part of an ongoing project to provide worldwide coverage of Chilopoda. 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.

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


May 30, 2019 - Horseshoe Crabs (Xiphosura) Global Coverage Updated

Xiphosurans (Xiphosura) - horseshoe crabs, in the vernacular - have a fossil record that extends back to the Ordovician geological period (about 450 million years ago). The four species of horseshoe crabs extant worldwide are marine inhabitants and have been called 'living fossils' for apparently exhibiting a low level of diversification across phylogenetic time (Obst et al., 2012). However, recent research has found that their evolutionary history is more complex than previously thought. For example, it is now known Xiphosurids have invaded non-marine environments at least five times before subsequent extinction (Lamsdell, 2015).

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


May 30, 2019 - Wasp Family Sphecidae Updated

Family Sphecidae - known as mud daubers, digger wasps, and sand wasps - comprises 783 species worldwide, 135 of which are cited for North America. The family was initially added to ITIS in 2008; this update added the complete synonymy from Wojciech Pulawski's online Catalog of Sphecidae as well as bringing the treatments up-to-date. The current update added 803 new names and verified an additional 2,000+ names. Sphecoid wasp larva feed on paralyzed arthropods (e.g., spiders, grasshoppers, or caterpillars) provided by an adult; adults feed on nectar and the bodily fluids of their prey.

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


April 30, 2019 - Centipede Family Henicopidae Global Coverage Added

Henicopidae includes 126 species worldwide, of which 19 are cited for North America. The type species of the genus, Lamyctes caeculus (Brölemann, 1889) is parthenogenetic (Edgecombe and Giribet, 2003).

The update is based on the treatment in ChiloBase 2.0 - A World Catalogue of Centipedes (Chilopoda), and is part of an ongoing project to provide worldwide coverage of Chilopoda. 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.

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


April 30, 2019 - Lagomorpha (rabbits, hares, and pikas) Global Coverage Updated

The order that contains rabbits, hares, and pikas comprises 99 species worldwide, 22 of which are found in North America. This update is based on the book 'Lagomorphs. Pikas, Rabbits, and Hares of the World' (Smith et al., 2018) with further updates from additional 2017-2019 publications. Videos of pikas calling to one another with loud squeaks can be viewed on YouTube.

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


April 30, 2019 - Pilosa (anteaters and sloths) Global Coverage Updated

The order Pilosa Flower, 1883, meaning 'hairy', currently includes 16 species of anteaters and sloths, and is found only in the Americas. The species count is significantly larger than just a few years ago, as a 2018 taxonomic review (Miranda et al., 2018) of the silky or pygmy anteater (genus Cyclopes Gray, 1821) found that the then-recognized single species in the genus, Cyclopes didactylus (Linnaeus, 1758) should be recognized as a complex of seven species.

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


April 24, 2019 - New Darwin Core Archive Download Capability from ITIS

We have added Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A) download capability from the ITIS taxon standard report page. Now you can obtain a representation of ITIS data in a biodiversity informatics standard designed for sharing and integrating checklist data. The DwC-A terms used in the download can be found on the ITIS DwC-A File format page. For details on how ITIS derives the DwC-A values see the DwC-A Layout and Data Application document.

The download is obtained by clicking on the Download DwC-A button that appears on single name report pages. Your download will include all names below the selected taxon, the direct hierarchy above it up to kingdom, and all synonyms. A download that begins at an invalid/not accepted name will begin at that name's valid/accepted name or names, and provide the children and direct hierarchy of the associated valid/accepted names with synonymy.

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


March 31, 2019 - Global Superfamily Corixoidea Added: Worldwide Aquatic Heteropteran Coverage Completed

Superfamily Corixoidea (which includes families Corixidae or 'water boatmen', and Micronectidae or 'pygmy water boatmen') contains 630 valid species worldwide. This update to ITIS comprises 794 newly-added names, part of a total of 1,010 new and edited taxonomic names.

ITIS now offers a full global treatment of aquatic and semi-aquatic heteropterans—collectively 'water bugs', in infraorders Gerromorpha, Nepomorpha, and Leptopodomorpha. This is the first complete global treatment of this particular group, and comprises over 5,200 valid species across the three infraorders.

Expertise and data to make this project possible were contributed by specialists Dr. Herbert Zettel of the Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria and Dr. Dan Polhemus of the Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii. 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.

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


March 31, 2019 - ITIS Updates Worldwide Hydrometridae

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of Hydrometridae (marsh treaders, water measurers). Hydrometridae was added to ITIS in August 2016, with 144 valid extant species. The current update includes 147 valid species (13 fossil, 134 extant), of which 8 (all extant) are found 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.

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


March 31, 2019 - ITIS Updates Worldwide Mesoveliidae

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of Mesoveliidae (pond treaders, pondweed bugs). Mesoveliidae was added to ITIS in August 2016, with 53 valid extant species. The current update includes 59 valid species (6 fossil, 53 extant), of which 3 are found 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.

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


February 25, 2019 - Worldwide Lithobiidae Added

Lithobiidae, sometimes known as stone centipedes, accounts for almost 1/3 of known and named centipede species, with 1,019 accepted species distributed worldwide (320 are found in North America). Adults have 15 pairs of legs and 18 body segments. This video includes close-up and action shots of a common European centipede species, Lithobius forficatus (Linnaeus, 1758).

The update is based on the treatment in ChiloBase 2.0 - A World Catalogue of Centipedes (Chilopoda), and is part of an ongoing project to provide worldwide coverage of Chilopoda. 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.

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


February 25, 2019 - Spider family Theraphosidae Updated

Spider family Theraphosidae includes most of the large, hairy spiders known as tarantulas, with 989 species currently recognized around the globe. This update, derived from data made available by the World Spider Catalog, adds 354 new names (accepted and synonymous) to ITIS' existing treatment and brings the treatment current to 2019. Certain species of tarantula are popular as pets. While they are not very venomous (capable of delivering a bite similar to a bee sting), some New World species have urticating hairs and are capable of throwing the hairs into the eyes or nose of a potential threat!

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


December 20, 2018 - Worldwide Notonectidae Added

As part of an ongoing project to provide worldwide coverage of aquatic Heteroptera ITIS added global coverage of Notonectidae. The cosmopolitan family of predatory aquatic heteropterans are commonly called 'backswimmers'… or 'water bees' or 'water wasps', because members can deliver a painful 'bite' by stabbing with their proboscis. With long hind legs modified for swimming, the Notonectidae superficially resemble Corixidae, the water boatman; however, Notonectidae often swim upside-down and do not have modified scoop-shaped front legs as Corixidae members do. Able to fly, inhabiting ponds and freshwater pools, and attracted to light, Notonectidae often invade swimming pools and may become a nuisance. Notonectidae comprises 405 species, 37 of which are found in North America. This data load added 502 new names to ITIS.

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.

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


December 20, 2018 - ITIS Updates Worldwide Gerridae, Hebridae, and Naucoridae

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of Gerridae, Hebridae, and Naucoridae. Gerridae was added to ITIS in January 2018, and this update adds 9 species to the 808 extant species recognized in January. Hebridae and Naucoridae were add to ITIS in July 2017. This update adds 1 species to the 233 extant species of Hebridae recognized in 2017, and 4 species to the 398 extant species of Naucoridae.

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.

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


November 29, 2018 - ITIS Updates Worldwide Veliidae

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of Veliidae (riffle bugs, and broad-shouldered water striders). Veliidae was added to ITIS in October 2016, with 1,152 valid extant species. The current update includes 1,164 valid extant species, of which 37 are found in North America, and 9 fossil species.

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.

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


November 29, 2018 - ITIS Updates Worldwide Leptopodomorpha

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of infraorder Leptopodomorpha. Leptopodomorpha was added to ITIS in July 2016, with 358 valid species. The current update includes 349 valid extant species, and 17 fossil species.

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.

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


November 29, 2018 - Worldwide Thaumastocoridae Added

The heteropteran family Thaumastocoridae includes the sap-sucking Bronze Bug, Thaumastocoris peregrinus D. L. Carpintero and Dellapé, 2006. It is native to Australia, but is a globally spreading species that specializes on Eucalpytus trees. It was found in Los Angeles County in 2016, but may not be established yet.

There are 31 extant species worldwide, 1 of which are found in North America. This update comprises 59 new and edited names, of which 40 names are new to ITIS.

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.

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


November 29, 2018 - ITIS Updates Mustelids of the World

ITIS has updated the complete global dataset of Mustelidae, the family of carnivorous mammals that includes weasels, badgers, otters, martens, and wolverines, among other taxa. Within this family are several species of fierce midguild predators with conspicuously colored facial masks, such as the European Badger, Marbled Polecat, and Wolverine. The masks likely serve as a warning to deter larger carnivorous predators. Newman et al. noted that masks are confined to terrestrial mammals under predation risk, who do not hunt by stealth-and-chase, and do not escape predators by climbing trees, using burrows, or diving into water.

Mustelidae comprises 63 species, 13 of which are found in North America with almost 350 subspecies. This data load added 548 new names to ITIS.

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


October 29, 2018 - Worldwide Nepidae and Pleidae Added

As part of an ongoing project to provide worldwide coverage of aquatic Heteroptera ITIS added global coverage of Nepidae and Pleidae. Nepidae are commonly called 'waterscorpions' because members bear a caudal breathing tube or siphon, used to breathe while under water, as well as raptorial forelegs. Nepidae are found on all continents except Antarctica; of the 262 extant species, 14 are found in North America. This update adds 370 new names to ITIS.

Pleidae, or 'pygmy backswimmers', are small (less than 3mm long) aquatic bugs with a distinctly convex shape. There are 35 extant species worldwide, 6 of which are found in North America. This update comprises 77 new and edited names, of which 35 names are new to ITIS.

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.

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


October 29, 2018 - ITIS Updates Worldwide Coreidae

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of the insect family Coreidae (leaf-footed bugs). ITIS has maintained Coreidae since 2015 when the global species dataset of 2,480 valid species were added or updated. This revision includes 107 names new to ITIS, brings the currency of the group to this year, and includes 2,564 Coreidae accepted species worldwide with 100 found in North America.

Coreidae includes the destructive American pest Anasa tristis (De Geer, 1773), commonly known as the squash bug. It attacks cucurbits, especially squash and pumpkin, by secreting highly toxic saliva into the plant.

Maintenance of the Coreidae global species dataset has been managed 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.

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


September 26, 2018 - Scolytinae (bark beetles, ambrosia beetles) of North America Added

Scolytinae includes two of the most destructive invasive pests in ornamental plant nurseries: the granulate ambrosia beetle, Xylosandrus crassiusculus (Motschulsky, 1866), and the black stem borer, Xylosandrus germanus (Blandford, 1894). These insects are generalists; Xylosandrus germanus has been reported to infest over 200 species of plants in 52 families. Infestations are often marked by 'toothpicks': columns of chewed wood and sap that extrude behind a beetle as it bores into a tree.

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. The current data load covers North America and comprises 632 accepted species, 555 of which are cited for North America; the load adds 265 new TSNs to ITIS.

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


August 30, 2018 - Worldwide Treatment of Colubroid Snakes Added

About half of all extant snake species are considered to be colubrids, and members of the family Colubridae can be found on every continent except Antarctica. In the past, the category of 'colubroids' was used broadly, even as a 'wastebin taxon', to classify species that did not clearly fall under other more well-defined families. The current data load includes Colubridae and families previously included within it: Lamprophiidae, Paretidae, and Xenodermidae. Under its current monophyletic circumscription, the family Colubridae consists of eight subfamilies, including Natricinae. Most colubrids are not venomous to humans; those that are venomous are rear-fanged, rather than front-fanged like the vipers and elapids. Research into the properties of colubrid venom, in terms of both potential harm and biomedical properties, is ongoing.

The current data load adds 3,917 new (without TSNs) names to ITIS, and is comprised of 2,254 valid species of which 128 are cited for North America.

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


July 30, 2018 - Worldwide Treatment of Class Holothuroidea Added

Commonly known as sea cucumbers, echinoderm class Holothuroidea has cosmopolitan marine distribution and comprises over 1,700 accepted species. Sea cucumbers offer the ecosystem service of bioturbation, aerating the ocean floor in much the same way earthworms do terrestrial soil. Various species of crustacean, mollusks, and even fish live on, or in, sea cucumbers in symbiotic relationships. Sea cucumbers are eaten by humans in various cultures, especially in east and southeast Asia; edible sea cucumbers are known as trepan (Indonesian), bêche-de-mer (French), bicho do mar (Portuguese), namako (Japanese), and loli (Hawaiian), among other names. Some species are subject to illegal food trafficking, and steps have been taken to conserve them. The Brown Sea Cucumber, Isostichopus fuscus (Ludwig, 1875) was added to CITES Appendix III in 2003 by Ecuador to help thwart illegal trafficking of the high-value catch.

Gustav Paulay, Curator of Marine Malacology, University of Florida, Florida Museum of Natural History, provided ITIS with source data from the World Register of Marine Species and gave guidance on taxonomic and nomenclatural issues. The current data load includes 1,709 accepted species, with 3,515 names newly added to ITIS.

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


June 29, 2018 - Worldwide Treatments of Melittidae and Stenotritidae (Bee Families) Updated

Stenotritidae are the smallest family of bees, comprising 21 species in two genera; all are restricted to Australia. This complete treatment of Stenotritidae adds 19 new names to ITIS. Melittidae, the second-smallest bee family, comprises 207 species, of which 31 are found in North America. Melittidae includes a high proportion of host-plant specialist, or 'oligolectic', species. Some practice oil-collecting (Michez et al. 2009); that is, using specialized finely-branched hairs on the fore- and mid-legs to take oils from flowers to use in nest-building and/or larval food.

The update is based upon the treatment in the Discover Life Bee Species Guide and World Checklist (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila) by Ascher and Pickering. John S. Ascher, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore provided taxonomic and nomenclatural guidance, and Denis Michez, PhD, reviewed the Melittidae update which added 228 new names to ITIS [subsequent to the 2007 World Bee Checklist] and edited an additional 236.

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


June 29, 2018 - Worldwide Treatment of Belostomatidae Added

Belostomatids, or 'giant water bugs', are among the largest insects in the world—some members of the genus Lethocerus can grow to over 12 cm long (nearly 5 inches). These fierce predators prey on aquatic invertebrates, mollusks, crustaceans, and fish (earning them the vernacular 'fish killers'), and have been known to kill and eat amphibians and reptiles. They occasionally inflict their painful venomous bite on humans, earning them the name 'toe biters'. Also called 'electric light bugs' for their attraction to bright lights at night, some species are a delicacy in parts of south and southeast Asia. ITIS' global update of Belostomatidae comprises 145 species, of which 23 are cited for North America; the update adds 218 new accepted and synonymous names to ITIS.

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.

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


June 29, 2018 - Worldwide Treatments of Caprimulgiformes, Nyctibiiformes, and Steatornithiformes Updated

The phylogeny of Strisores (a clade encompassing hummingbirds, swifts, owlet-nightjars, frogmouths, nightjars, potoos, and the oilbird) is contentious. While the IOC (version 8.2, 2018) "[Proposes] to merge Apodiformes, including owlet-nightjars as well as swifts and hummingbirds, with the Caprimulgiform nightbirds to define a spectacular basal adaptive radiation of Neoaves", in this update ITIS has followed Zoonomen (2018) in recognizing potoos and the oilbird at order rank, Nyctibiiformes and Steatornithiformes respectively. This approach was argued and adopted by the South American Classification Committee by Van Remsen (February, 2016) in Proposal 703.

The three orders in this update include 122 species worldwide, 10 of which are found in North America. This update comprises 585 edited names, 218 of which are new to ITIS.

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


May 25, 2018 - Worldwide Treatment of Andrenidae (bee family) Updated

Commonly known as mining bees, due to their ground-nesting habit, family Andrenidae is common and diverse in North America. Over 1,200 valid species are found in the US and Canada [1,234 are cited for North America in this ITIS treatment], 83% of which are in either genus Andrena or Perdita. Species in the genus Perdita, are diminutive in size (2-10 mm) and tend to have very specific or 'oligolectic' foraging requirements - consuming the pollen from only one or a few closely related species of plants. This worldwide update for ITIS encompasses 3,010 valid species worldwide.

The update is based upon the treatment in the Discover Life Bee Species Guide and World Checklist (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila) by Ascher and Pickering. John S. Ascher, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore provided taxonomic and nomenclatural guidance, and Sébastien Patiny, PhD, and Kelli Ramos, PhD, reviewed of subfamily Panurginae. Altogether, the update comprises 5,729 new or edited names, including synonyms, 2,670 of which are newly-added to ITIS [subsequent to the 2007 World Bee Checklist].

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


May 25, 2018 - Worldwide Treatment of Reduviidae Added

Reduviidae, known by the vernaculars 'assassin bugs,' 'ambush bugs,' or 'thread-legged bugs,' is the second-most numerous and morphologically diverse family of predatory bugs. Particularly infamous members are the 'kissing bugs' of subfamily Triatominae; they feed on vertebrate blood and may transmit Chagas disease to humans. This cosmopolitan family comprises 7,449 species in ITIS, 197 of which are cited for North America. This update adds 9,035 TSNs to ITIS. 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.

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


February 28, 2018 - Worldwide Treatment of Elmidae and Protelmidae Added

The aquatic 'riffle beetles' of families Elmidae and Protelmidae usually live in cool rapid streams, where they feed on decayed plants and algae. Protelmidae was formerly considered as a tribe of Elmidae, and was recently elevated to full family rank. These families include 1540 species worldwide, 105 of which are found in North America. The update comprises 1926 edited names, 1631 of which are new to ITIS. 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.

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


January 29, 2018 - Worldwide Treatment of Gerridae Added

Known as water striders or pond skaters, insects in the family Gerridae are able to walk on the surface of ponds, streams, rivers or even saltwater; because of their widely- and evenly- distributed weight and specially adapted legs — having fine hydrophobic (water-repellent) hairs on the underside of their tarsi (feet) — water surface tension supports them. This family includes 808 extant species and 18 fossil species, 52 of which are found in North America. The update comprises 1,224 edited names, 1,119 of which are new to ITIS

With the addition of family Gerridae, ITIS now contains complete and current global coverage for the heteropteran infraorder Gerromorpha. 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, with guidance and input from expert Dan Polhemus.

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


January 29, 2018 - Worldwide Treatment of Anthocerotophyta (Hornworts) Added

Hornworts (Anthocerotophyta) are a nonvascular order of plants characterized by their elongated horn-like sporophyte and thalloid gametophyte body. ITIS' treatment is adapted from Söderström et al. 2016, the first-ever worldwide checklist for liverworts (Marchantiophyta) and hornworts. The update comprises 215 valid species; 449 edited names, 285 of which are new to ITIS.

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


January 29, 2018 - ITIS Updates Primates of the World

This third annual update to ITIS' worldwide treatment of primates (see February 8, 2016 and April 1, 2017) includes 13 newly-added names or name combinations, part of a total 155 edited names. The ITIS Primate treatment now includes 508 species, of which three (including humans) are cited for North America. Notably, the current update includes the Tapanuli Orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis Nurcahyo, Meijaard, Nowak, Fredriksson and Groves in Nater et al., 2017), the first new great ape species described since 1929. The current population of Tapanuli Orangutans is estimated to be fewer than 800 individuals. Anthony Rylands, of Conservation International and the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group, provided taxonomic and nomenclatural guidance.

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


January 29, 2018 - ITIS Updates Strigiformes (Owls) of the World

Order Strigiformes is one of the oldest groups of land birds, with lineages extending back 70-80 million years. Owls are found in every region of the world, with the exception of Antarctica. The order comprises 243 valid species, of which 22 are cited for North America. This update contains 1,380 edited names, 540 of which are new to ITIS.

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


December 20, 2017 - Worldwide Treatment of Cestoda (Tapeworms) Added

This worldwide treatment of class Cestoda (tapeworms) was adapted from 'Tapeworms from Vertebrate Bowels of the Earth' (University of Kansas, Natural History Museum, Special Publication No. 25; published July 2017), a comprehensive worldwide review capping eight years of dedicated research funded by the Planetary Biodiversity Inventory. The publication addresses current taxonomy, host associations, diversity, phylogeny, geographic distribution and more, accompanying full lists of valid species for each tapeworm order - with the exception of order Cyclophyllidea, treated only to generic level because of its size and complexity (it would comprise over 3,000 valid species).

The ITIS update added 2,984 new names to ITIS, and included 1,863 valid and accepted species.

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


November 30, 2017 - Worldwide Treatment of Viperidae Added

Vipers are remarkable for having long, needle-like fangs that fold backwards when not in use (solenoglyphous). The true vipers of subfamily Viperinae are found in Africa, Europe and Asia, while the vipers found in the Americas - including rattlesnakes, the Copperhead and Cottonmouth - are pit vipers, so named for their temperature-sensitive facial pit organs. Viperidae contains 341 species worldwide, 23 of which are found in the United States.

The update work was coordinated by Ted R. Kahn, Sara Alexander and David Nicolson of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program, 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 .


November 30, 2017 - ITIS Updates Phyllostomidae

Phyllostomidae, the leaf-nosed bats, is one of the largest and most diverse families within Chiroptera, containing 207 extant species (Vespertilionidae contains over 450 species; Pteropodidae contains 195); 6 species of phyllostomid are found in North America. Family Phyllostomidae includes fruit-eating, nectar- and pollen-eating, insectivorous, carnivorous and vampire bats. The present update included, among other things, the addition of genus Gardnerycteris, named in honor of specialist Dr. Alfred L. Gardner.

The work was coordinated by Sara N. Alexander of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program. Taxonomic guidance was given by Dr. Alfred L. Gardner, Research Wildlife Biologist from the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and Curator of the National Collection of North American.

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


November 30, 2017 - Worldwide Treatment of Gelastocoridae Added

As part of an ongoing project to provide worldwide coverage of aquatic Heteroptera ITIS added global coverage of Gelastocoridae (Toadbugs or Toad Bugs). This hemipteran family of 115 extant and 5 extinct species, 8 of which are found in North America, have bulging eyes and rounded warty bodies. Their hopping movements earn them the comparison to toads.

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.

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


November 30, 2017 - Worldwide Treatment of Dinidoridae Added

Dinidoridae are part of the superfamily Pentatomoidea, which are variously called shield bugs, chust bugs, and stink bugs. Dinidoridae comprises 109 species. Most species occur in the Afrotropical region, but the type genus Dinidor Latreille, 1829 occurs in Neotropical regions. None are found 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. The update was completed using Rolston et al.'s Catalog of Dinidoridae of the world published in 1996, and the most recent taxonomic literature

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


October 27, 2017 - Worldwide Treatment of Elapidae added

Family Elapidae includes some of the most dangerous venomous snakes in the world: Coral Snakes, Cobras, Sea Snakes, Kraits, and Death Adders. The Inland Taipan of Australia, aka Fierce Snake (Oxyuranus microlepidotus (McCoy, 1879)) possesses the most toxic of all snake venoms as measured by LD50 tests on mice, but few people have ever been killed by Inland Taipans because of their reclusive nature and remote distribution, and thanks to quick and effective first aid treatment.

The update work was coordinated by Ted R. Kahn and David Nicolson of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program, 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 .


October 27, 2017 - ITIS Updates Zoraptera and Mesoveliidae

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of the insect order Zoraptera (angel insects) and insect family Mesoveliidae (pond treaders, pondweed bugs).

ITIS has maintained Zoraptera since 2004 when the global species dataset of 32 valid species were added to the ITIS database. Revisions in 2012, 2013, 2015, and now 2017 brings the currency of the group to this year and includes 52 species, 41 extant and 11 from ancient amber.

A complete global species dataset of Mesoveliidae with 53 species was added to ITIS in 2016. New species named since 2016 bring the total species count to 56.

Maintenance of the Zoraptera and Mesoveliidae global species dataset has been managed 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.

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


October 27, 2017 - ITIS Updates Ragworts of North America

North American coverage for genus Packera Á. Löve & D. Löve (Asteraceae), commonly called ragworts, has been updated.

ITIS completed Asteraceae for North American and Hawaii in 2010, including just over 3,000 accepted species of which approximately 2,600 occur in North America. This update brings the currency of Packera to this year and includes 56 species. Revisions include, among other things, recognizing the full species status of Packera crawfordii (Britton) A.M. Mahoney & R.R. Kowal and three new varieties of Packera paupercula (Michx.) Á. Löve & D. Löve.

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


September 27, 2017 - Worldwide Treatment of Tropidophiidae and Iguania Added

Snake family Tropidophiidae, known as Dwarf Boas, contains 34 species worldwide, and are found from Mexico and the West Indies to Brazil. When threatened they will curl into a ball, and may spontaneously bleed (autohemorrhage) from the mouth and nose, as well as behind their spectacles (analogous to eyelids), temporarily turning their eyes bright red.

Suborder Iguania currently includes 14 families, including iguanas, anoles, chameleons, agamids, spiny lizards, and the flying dragons of genus Draco. The update comprises 1,853 species, of which 89 are cited for North America, and adds 2,166 new names to ITIS. As of 2017 the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed that 11 species from families in Iguania are Critically Endangered and another 19 are Endangered.

The update work was coordinated by Ted R. Kahn and David Nicolson of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program, 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 .


August 30, 2017 - Worldwide Treatment of Curaliidae and Velocipedidae Added

Family Curaliidae is a monotypic family of true bugs, and was described in 2008. Its sole species, Curalium cronini Schuh et al., 2008, is found in Florida and Louisiana, and is bright ruby red. Velocipedidae, or "fast-footed bugs," comprises 29 species distributed through tropical Asia and southwards, from India to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Their head is distinctively elongated and their exocorium (the leathery, external part of their forewings) is broadly expanded. The ITIS update that incorporated both family Curaliidae and Velocipedidae comprised 53 new names. 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.

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


August 30, 2017 - Worldwide Treatment of Tetraodontiformes Added

Fish order Tetraodontiformes includes various distinctively-shaped fish including pufferfishes, cowfishes, filefishes, and the Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola (Linnaeus, 1758)). It also includes the infamous fugu, source of one of the world's most dangerous foods and subject of a thorny nomenclatural problem that ichthyologists and the ITIS Data Development Coordinator are endeavoring to resolve (see comment on genus Takifugu Abe, 1949).

The order includes 434 species worldwide. This update added 921 new names to ITIS. The treatment is based on the work of Bill Eschmeyer, primary author of the Catalogue of Fishes, maintained as a website hosted by the California Academy of Sciences, and was adapted for the ITIS update by Howard Jelks.

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


July 27, 2017 - Worldwide Treatment of Hebridae Added

Hebridae are known as 'velvet water bugs' for their characteristic hydrofuge pile (water-shedding dense hairs), which supports them atop water's surface tension. Unlike other gerromorphans, hebrids prefer marginal aquatic habitats to open water surface. This aquatic heteropteran family includes 2 fossil and 233 extant valid species, 16 of which are found in North America. The treatment adds 275 new names to ITIS. 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.

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


July 27, 2017 - Worldwide Treatment of Naucoridae Added

The addition of aquatic heteropteran family Naucoridae ('creeping water bugs') completes superfamily Naucoroidea (Heteroptera: Nepomorpha), and is another step towards a full treatment of all aquatic heteropterans worldwide. Family Naucoridae comprises 418 species (398 extant, 20 fossil), of which 24 are found in North America; this update adds 595 names to ITIS. They typically live in still, fresh water, where they prey on molluscs and the larvae of other insects. Be careful with them: they can give a painful bite!

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.

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


June 30, 2017 - Worldwide Treatment of Sphecoid Wasps Completed

With the addition of subfamily Bembicinae (family Crabronidae) this month, ITIS has achieved full worldwide coverage of superfamily Apoidea (bees and sphecoid wasps). ITIS' treatment of sphecoid wasps is an adaptation of the Catalogue of Sphecidae compiled by Wojciech J. Pulawski, who has been publishing on the group for over 60 years! This final installment comprised 4462 new/edited names, adding 4355 new names to ITIS; it includes 1681 accepted species, of which 267 are cited for North America. Updates to previously-added bee treatments are currently underway.

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


June 30, 2017 - Worldwide Treatment of Helotrephidae Added

The aquatic heteropteran family Helotrephidae (a "water bug" family) includes 188 valid species, none of which are found in North America. The treatment adds 247 new names to ITIS. These are small bugs, 1.0 to 4.0 mm, and their head and prothorax are fused (Schuh and Slater, 1995). They may live in open water or utilize plastron respiration to live underwater. Distributed around the world in tropical and neotropical areas, they can be found in habitats as disparate as rock pools, running water, hot springs, or discarded ceramic bowls. 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.

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


June 30, 2017 - Native Common Reed Differentiated from Invasive Common Reed

After being prompted by an inquiry from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, ITIS added Phragmites australis subsp. americanus Saltonst., P.M. Peterson & Soreng, a small change with large meaning for conservation. While the typical subspecies of Phragmites australis are ecologically damaging invasive weeds in the United States, subspecies americanus is native.

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


June 30, 2017 - Worldwide Treatment of Abalone Added

Abalone are members of the genus Haliotidae; currently all are recognized as belonging to a single genus, Haliotis, Latin for "sea ears". ITIS' treatment is an adaptation of Daniel L. Geiger and Buzz Owen's 2012 book, "Abalone: Worldwide Haliotidae." Currently 55 valid species are accepted in the genus. The update comprised 263 edited names, of which 244 were new.

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


June 30, 2017 - Annelid Hierarchy Updated

The upper hierarchy for phylum Annelida (the segmented worms, from phylum Annelida down to family and including some genera) has been corrected and brought in line with Ruggiero et al.'s 2015 revisions to "A Higher Level Classification of All Living Things," in an update comprising 649 new/edited names of which 215 names are new to ITIS.

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


June 2, 2017 - Worldwide Treatment of Turbellarians Added

"Turbellaria" refers to all flatworms that are not exclusively parasitic. It is a paraphyletic group, including members of protostome phylum Platyhelminthes that are not obligate parasites (that is, excluding classes Monogenea, Trematoda, and Cestoda, now known as "Neodermata") and also including deuterostome phylum Xenacoelamorpha. Turbellarian species occur in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial habitats, and include 1mm-long animals that live among sand grains, brightly-colored marine taxa that swim through reefs, and the planarium Planaria torva (O. F. Müller, 1774) whose regenerative abilities are so advanced that one individual can become over 200 if cut into pieces (el-Showk, 2014). In collaboration with Seth Tyler and Steve Schilling ITIS adapted data from the Turbellarian Taxonomic Database to add a worldwide treatment of Turbellaria, involving 12,308 new and edited names (including 11,657 names new to ITIS) and 5,721 valid species.

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


June 2, 2017 - ITIS Updates Wasp Subfamily Philanthinae

Full and current global coverage for sphecoid wasp subfamily Philanthinae was added. This treatment added 2,648 new names to ITIS, containing 1,141 valid species. The addition was derived from the Catalogue of Sphecidae compiled and maintained by Wojciech Pulawski, and completed with his ongoing assistance in resolving questions. This update brings ITIS closer towards completing the full worldwide treatment of sphecoid wasps.

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


May 1, 2017 - ITIS updates the second-largest genus of flowering plants, Euphorbia

The spurge genus, Euphorbia, is the second-largest genus among flowering plants, with about 2,000 valid and accepted species (legume genus Astragalus is the largest). With generous help from experts Paul Berry and Riki Riina, ITIS has adapted data from the Euphorbia Planetary Biodiversity Inventory Project to add a worldwide treatment of Euphorbia; including 1,982 accepted species. Members of Euphorbia are characterized by having a cyathium, a specialized floral structure found in no other plant. The current treatment includes genera that have been previously segregated but are now in Euphorbia, e.g. Chamaesyce and Poinsettia. This update also includes a worldwide update of genus Croton, a complete treatment of New World genus Astraea, and a number of other genera in family Euphorbiaceae. In total, 8,952 names (accepted or synonymous) were added and nearly 1,000 names edited for an approximate total of 10,000 names in the update.

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


April 1, 2017 - ITIS Updates Lobe-finned Fish of the World

Although Sarcopterygii includes all tetrapods, it is commonly used to refer only to the fish group and not all the four limbed vertebrates that evolved from sarcopterygian fish.

Extant lobe-finned fish include eight species: two coelacanth species found in deep ocean along the coasts of Africa and Indonesia, and six lungfish species found in Australia, South America, and Africa. The ITIS update of the group comprised 22 newly-added names for a total of 50 new and edited names. The coelacanths are protected by CITES, and the Tanzanian population of the African Coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) was listed under the US Endangered Species Act in 2016.

To accommodate the revision of Sarcopterygii, the hierarchy of neighboring superclass Actinopterygii (ray-finned fish) was revised: Chondrostei, Cladistei, and Holostei have been updated from class to family rank.

The treatment is based on the work of Bill Eschmeyer, primary author of the Catalogue of Fishes, maintained as a website hosted by the California Academy of Sciences, and was adapted for the ITIS update by Howard Jelks.

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


April 1, 2017 - ITIS Updates Primates of the World

This month's update to the Primates builds upon last year's update (see February 8, 2016 - ITIS Updates Primates of the World) and includes 91 newly-added names/combinations, part of a total 1,125 edited names. The ITIS Primate treatment now includes 501 species, of which three (including humans) are cited for North America. The number of species is fewer than the previous total due to taxonomic revision. For example, Cercopithecus albogularis, C. doggetti and C. kandti are now considered subspecies of Cercopithecus mitis. Paragalago, a new genus of galagos, is the newest name in the update. Anthony Rylands of Conservation International and the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group, provided taxonomic and nomenclatural guidance.

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


March 6, 2017 - Brief ITIS Outage Scheduled for Wednesday, March 8

Maintenance to the ITIS website and web services may cause a brief service interruption on Wednesday, March 8, 2017.

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


February 28, 2017 - ITIS Updates Crabronini of the World

Global coverage for tribe Crabronini (subfamily Crabroninae) added almost 1,500 species of crabronid wasp to ITIS (156 of which are found in North America); more progress towards full coverage of wasp family Crabronidae. This addition was derived from the Catalogue of Sphecidae compiled and maintained by Wojciech Pulawski, and with his ongoing assistance in resolving questions. It was accompanied by an update of crabronid genus Pison and allied genera (Menke, 2016. A Re-evaluation of the Generic Limits of Pison Jurine, and a New Species of the Genus Aulacophilinus Lomholdt (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae: Trypoxylini). Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, ser. 4, vol. 63, no. 11, pp. 333-340).

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


February 28, 2017 - ITIS Updates Whirligig Beetles of North America

North American coverage for family Gyrinidae, the whirligig beetles, has been added. The family includes 61 accepted species in North America; the update comprised 121 names. Their unique compound eyes are split into upper and lower halves of differing structure, allowing them to simultaneously see both overwater and underwater while swimming on the surface (Blagodatski et al., 2014). 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.

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


February 13, 2017 - ITIS Updates Cosmopolitan Diatom Genus Navicula

Since it was described by Bory de Saint-Vincent in 1822, diatom genus Navicula has been assigned species that are now understood to belong to other genera, other families, and even other orders of diatoms! Research Collaborator and diatom expert Ling Ren performed extensive revision of ITIS existing records of Navicula (sensu lato) and built worldwide coverage for Navicula (sensu stricto). This update added 1,353 diatom names to ITIS; 2,185 names were edited in total.

Navicula are boat-shaped algae and, usually benthic, sometimes found in plankton. It is estimated that diatoms (including but not restricted to Navicula) produce 20-40% of the world's oxygen. Diatoms are generally particular about the qualities of their environment, and so are used in environmental assessment and monitoring.

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


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