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)
Please direct any questions you may have to the ITIS team at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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 email@example.com .
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
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 email@example.com .
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.
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.
We have updated the ITIS Web Services again, this time to fix some minor bugs and add more new features. Chief among these are:
For details about using the JSON and JSON-P calls, see the Web Service Documentation.
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:
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.
We have updated the ITIS Web Services to fix some minor bugs and add new features. Chief among these are:
If you've been using our database downloads from the downloads page, you'll be interested to know the structure of the ITIS Hierarchy table has changed.
While updating our search we've added new columns to make hierarchy queries faster. These columns were added:
Please direct any questions to the ITIS team at firstname.lastname@example.org
ITIS news is now available through an RSS (Rich Site Summary) feed. This feed will provide announcements of ITIS news, such as items on this page, and new data loads.
To use the feed, you simple click on the RSS button at the top of this page or on the ITIS home page. Your browser will either show you the feed with instructions on how to subscribe, or will ask you to select the application (news reader) to use for RSS subscription. Please direct any questions to the ITIS team at email@example.com
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.
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.
For more detailed information about the TRED, access
the TRED now.
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:
Inquiries by or references to potential collaborators are always welcome.