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The ‘Catalogue of Life’

24 September 2009


The on-line Species2000/ITIS ‘Catalogue of Life’ now covers over 60 per cent of all known species on the planet.

Supported by Cardiff School of Computer Science for more than a decade, the Catalogue details the authoritative names of some 1.2million different plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms. It is used by thousands of researchers and professionals worldwide every year and recognised by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Catalogue has now launched a new phase with the 4D4Life Project, funded by the European Union. This will install a new array of public services, design new service-based electronic architecture and extend the reach of the programme to link with similar centres in China, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, North America and Europe.


The School of Computer Science is providing expertise for the new project. Dr Richard White and Dr Andrew Jones will design a new information architecture to make the Catalogue robust and flexible enough for its growing role. Alex Hardisty will co-ordinate technical design across the project to ensure compatibility between the various components. These include services, the databases network, the global multi-hub network, software support and the new architecture.

Alex Hardisty said: "We have supported the ‘Catalogue of Life’ as it has grown to the point where it now serves some 40,000 users and its website receives 40 million hits a year. Through the 4D4Life Project, we aim to help the Catalogue move to its next stage as an important infrastructure resource for biodiversity work around the world."

Co-ordinated by the University of Reading, the Catalogue is widely used by major global and regional biodiversity portals. The intergovernmental Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and the Encyclopedia of Life (EoL) have incorporated it as the bedrock of their taxonomic information. The annual CD-ROM edition serves 3,500 offline users in 80 countries.

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