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December 22, 2016 - ITIS Data File Integrity Has Been Restored

On December 22, 2016 the file integrity of ITIS was corrected. This fixes the duplicate names that were introduced on November 30, 2016.

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


December 14, 2016 - ITIS Data File Integrity is Being Corrected

On November 30, 2016 an error occurred that created data integrity issues in the ITIS database, resulting in some names being duplicated. Until ITIS restores data integrity the download files will be unavailable.

We have a solution to restore integrity, and we believe corrected files will be available soon.

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


November 30, 2016 - ITIS Updates Two Genera of Snakes, Chilabothrus and Drymarchon

Chilabothrus argentum Reynolds, Puente-Rolón, Geneva, Aviles-Rodriguez and Herrmann, 2016 (Conception Bank Silver Boa) is the first new West Indian Boa described in 73 years, and its description brings the number of West Indian boa species to 12. Based on IUCN Red List assessment criteria, it is one of the most critically endangered boid snakes (Boidae) globally (Reynolds et al. 2016).

Indigo Snakes, genus Drymarchon Fitzinger, 1843, are endemic to the U.S., central and South America. Of the six currently accepted species in the genus three are found in North America. They are nonvenomous and are not aggressive towards humans.

Update work for reptiles is coordinated by Ted R. Kahn with guidance from Dr. Roy W. McDiarmid.

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


November 30, 2016 - ITIS Updates Wasp Subfamily Pemphredoninae

Full and current global coverage for sphecoid wasp subfamily Pemphredoninae was added; of 1,119 included valid species, 225 are found in North America. The addition was derived from the Catalogue of Sphecidae compiled and maintained by Wojciech Pulawski, and completed with his ongoing assistance in resolving questions.

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


November 30, 2016 - ITIS Updates Aquatic Heteroptera

As part of an ongoing project to provide worldwide coverage of aquatic Heteroptera two new species were added to our global treatments. The new species Aphelocheirus pemae Millán, L'mohdi and Carbonell, 2016 from Morocco brings the family Aphelocheiridae Fieber, 1851 up to 109 extant species. The new species Mesovelia tuberculata Floriano and Moreira in Floriano et al., 2016 from Venezuela brings the family up to 49 extant species globally. An additional five fossil species are covered in ITIS.

Update work for insects is coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert.

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


November 30, 2016 - ITIS Adds New Species of Gopher Tortoise

In recognition of the distinctiveness of Gopherus morafkai Murphy, Berry, Edwards, Leviton, Lathrop and Riedle, 2011 in the southern part of its range a new species of Gopher Tortoise from Mexico, Gopherus evgoodei Edwards, Karl, Vaughn, Rosen, Meléndez Torres and Murphy, 2016 (Goode's Thornscrub Tortoise) was described earlier this year. The recognition of Gopherus evgoodei has conservation implications because it reduces the distribution of Gopherus morafkai by 34% in Mexico (Edwards et al., 2016).

Update work for reptiles is coordinated by Ted R. Kahn with guidance from Dr. Roy W. McDiarmid.

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


October 31, 2016 - ITIS Updates Three Families of Aquatic Heteropterans

ITIS has added global coverage for three families of aquatic heteropterans: Veliidae, Hermatobatidae, and Stenocephalidae. Veliidae are variously known as broad-shouldered bugs or broad-shouldered water striders (because their pronotum is wider than their abdomen), small water striders, ripple bugs, or riffle bugs. The family comprises 1152 extant species worldwide, of which 37 are found in North America. Hermatobatidae are obligatory surface-dwelling marine bugs, and so are called seabugs. They are thought to possibly represent the oldest extant group of marine Gerromorpha (Polhemus and Polhemus, 2012). All of the 12 species are found in Pacific or Indian Ocean regions; one species is native to Hawaii. Stenocephalidae contains a single genus of 25 species, Dicranocephalus, and all are found in the Eastern Hemisphere.

The updates were conducted by Daniel Perez-Gelabert (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 .


October 31, 2016 - ITIS Updates Two Families of Aquatic Beetles

ITIS has added North American coverage of two aquatic beetle families. Ripiphoridae is a cosmopolitan family, with 44 species found in North America. Members undergo hypermetamorphosis: more than three normal stages of complete metamorphosis. All the members of Ripiphoridae are parasitic. The three subfamilies within the group target different prey. Ripiphorinae parasitize bees and wasps; Pelecotominae parasitize wood-boring beetle larvae; and Ripidiinae parasitize cockroaches (http://bugguide.net/node/view/4620). Scirtidae, or marsh beetles, have been noted as being in great need of taxonomic revision (http://bugguide.net/node/view/16991). There are about 800 species worldwide, of which 51 are found in North America.

The updates were conducted by Daniel Perez-Gelabert (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 .


October 11, 2016 - ITIS has Transitioned to HTTPS

On October 11, 2016, ITIS began delivering its content over https. Now when you visit ITIS pages, you'll see a green lock and https:// in the address bar instead of http://. This lets you know you are really on an ITIS page — that our server identity is confirmed — and that your communication with our server is encrypted and private.

For users browsing ITIS we have temporarily established a redirect so links you have saved or shared prior to the https transition will be automatically directed to https://. However, the redirect will only be in effect until December 30, 2016. Please update your links to https:// to maintain working links.

ITIS has also redirected web services (http://www.itis.gov/web_service.html) from http to https until the end of the calendar year. Scripters should switch to https before December 30, 2016 to keep calls from failing. Our server side redirect was supposed to be seamless for our service users, but some clients have encountered problems. Please let us know if you have not been able to utilize our web services since the HTTPS transition.

ITIS Solr services (https://www.itis.gov/solr_documentation.html) will continue to use http for the immediate future. We'll keep you notified of any changes to Solr on this news page.

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


October 11, 2016 - Search Off-Site Resources Removal

The Search Off-Site Resources option at the bottom of the ITIS taxon standard report page has been removed. This feature, which allowed users to search for the taxon across multiple Web sites, received little use over the past year. It made sense to remove it and make room on the report page for new, more useful features.

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


October 11, 2016 - New Subordinate Taxa Table and Subordinate Taxa List Reports

We have added a table of valid or accepted taxa counts by rank and credibility rating at the bottom of the ITIS taxon standard report page. Now you can view the counts of valid/accepted taxa under the target name of the report. The counts are aggregated by rank, and are summed by three credibility values: verified standards met, verified minimum standards met, and unverified. The proportion of names across all three credibility values are also represented in an interactive pie chart.

The names summed in the report can be listed by clicking on the count-results in the table allowing you, for example, to list all the genera in the order Passeriformes.

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


October 11, 2016 - Now Download Results from ITIS Taxon Compare Tool

The results generated by Taxon Compare can now be downloaded in delimited text format. The Taxon Compare tool allows you to upload a text file of your scientific names to determine if one or more names in ITIS match. ITIS data displayed for matched names includes TSN, Scientific Name, Rank, and Author. The download includes the matched and non-matched results, and returns them in the same order in which they were submitted in the uploaded file. For more information about how to use Taxon Compare see the compare taxonomy guidelines.

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


September 30, 2016 - Harvestmen Update

The arachnid order Opiliones, or harvestmen, is represented by 249 species in North America; worldwide the order contains over 6,600 species (BugGuide, 2016). While sometimes also known as daddy longlegs, that common name also may refer to crane flies (Tipulidae) or cellar spiders (Pholcidae). Harvestmen can be easily differentiated from spiders because their body segments are fused rather than comprising a cephalothorax and abdomen connected by a constriction. Besides full regional coverage for North America, this ITIS update contains globally complete treatments of superfamilies Travunioidea, Triaenonychoidea, Samooidea, and Zalmoxoidea, and additional families and genera, for a total of 1280 valid species with 1916 new and edited names.

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


September 30, 2016 - ITIS Updates Monotomidae, Agyrtidae and Silphinae of North America, and Aphelocheiridae and Potamocoridae of the World

Beetle family Monotomidae (root-eating beetles) contains 59 North American species, and this update includes 151 new and edited names.

Beetle family Agyrtidae (primitive carrion beetles) and subfamily Silphinae (of Silphidae, carrion beetles) together are represented by 27 species in North America; this regional update contained 55 new and edited names.

Aphelocheiridae and Potamocoridae are in superfamily Naucoroidea (creeping water bugs). There are 146 species in these two families worldwide, including 24 found in North America.

The updates for all of these groups were conducted by Daniel Perez-Gelabert (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 .


September 30, 2016 - Giraffe Update

Following a study published this month (Fennessy et al, 26 September 2016), ITIS has updated its treatment of giraffes (genus Giraffa) from a single species to four species. In the words of the authors of the publication, their findings show that the genetic complexity of giraffes "has been underestimated, highlighting the need for greater conservation efforts for the world's tallest mammal."

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


August 30, 2016 - ITIS Updates Homalopsid Snakes of the World

Snakes of the family Homalopsidae, sometimes known as Water Snakes or Mudsnakes, are found in southeastern Asia and northern Australia and are venomous. The family contains 53 valid species in 27 genera. Two species -- Gerarda prevostiana and Fordonia leucobalia - are notable for having been observed tearing their prey apart before eating it; snakes generally swallow their prey whole (Jayne et al. 2002).

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, 2016 - ITIS Updates Four Families of Aquatic Heteroptera

This month's updates of bug families Hydrometridae (144 valid species; marsh treaders, water measurers), Macroveliidae (4 species; macroveliid shore bugs), Paraphrynoveliidae (2 species), and Mesoveliidae (53 species; pond treaders, pondweed bugs) are part of an ongoing project to provide full worldwide coverage for infraorder Gerromorpha (semiaquatic or shore-inhabiting bugs), conducted by Daniel Perez-Gelabert (Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History). The United States is home to nine species (in one genus) of Hydrometridae, two species (in two genera) of Macroveliidae, and three species (in one genus) of Mesoveliidae.

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


August 30, 2016 - ITIS Updates Larrini of the World

The addition of tribe Larrini within wasp subfamily Crabroninae marked another milestone towards complete global coverage of crabronid wasps (family Crabronidae); this update, containing 1,321 valid species, comprised 3,205 new and edited names. The addition was derived from the Catalogue of Sphecidae compiled and maintained by Wojciech Pulawski, and completed with his ongoing assistance in resolving questions.

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


July 29, 2016 - ITIS Updates Shore Bugs of the World

ITIS has added global coverage of order Leptopodomorpha, including shore bugs and spiny shore bugs, adding 371 new accepted and synonymous names for a total of 358 valid and accepted species. Of these, 85 are found in North America. Shore bug fossils in amber and rock from the Jurassic, Cretaceous, Oligocene, and Miocene epochs have been found. Daniel Perez-Gelabert (Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History) compiled the dataset.

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


July 29, 2016 - ITIS Updates Flatfish of the World

The global treatment of flatfishes (order Pleuronectiformes) has been updated, with the addition of 860 accepted and synonymous names; the order currently comprises 793 valid and accepted species. Flatfishes are named for the distinctive asymmetrical body form of adults. Some species are dextral - their eyes migrate to the right side of their body and they rest on their left side - some sinistral - vice-versa - and some species contain both dextral and sinistral individuals. Important food fishes, including flounder, sole, tubot, and halibut, belong to this order. 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 29, 2016 - ITIS Updates Crabroninae of the World

Almost 2,000 species of crabronid wasp in subfamily Crabroninae were added to ITIS; this represents progress towards a proximal goal of full global coverage of the subfamily Crabroninae, and ultimately 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.

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


July 29, 2016 - ITIS Updates Aloe of the World

Thirteen species of the succulent plant genus Aloe were added to existing global coverage. ITIS has maintained a global Aloe treatment since 2014. Many species of Aloe are cultivated almost worldwide as house plants and for pharmaceutical applications such as the well known Aloe vera extract. This update brings the treatment up to date as of the beginning of 2016.

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


June 30, 2016 - ITIS Updates Velvety Shore Bugs of the World

ITIS has added global coverage of family Ochteridae, known as the Velvety Shore Bugs, adding 102 new accepted and synonymous names for a total of 86 valid and accepted species. These true bugs, found in damp areas around the edges of calm bodies of water, prey on small invertebrates. Five species are found in the United States. They are difficult to study because of their small size (generally 4 or 5 millimeters), inconspicuous appearance, tendency to group only in small numbers, and habit of jumping or flying away when disturbed. The update work was conducted 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, 2016 - ITIS Updates Chaetocerotaceae of the World

ITIS has added global coverage of the diatom family Chaetocerotaceae. These diatoms are centric (radially symmetrical); each individual's frustule (cell wall) has four long setae, which link together to form linear colonies. There are 185 extant accepted species worldwide; the update added 273 new accepted and synonymous names. While primarily marine, about twenty species inhabit fresh and brackish water in North America, Europe, and the Caribbean. Because Chaetocerotaceae diatoms multiply quickly and contain a high percentage of lipids, during recent years they have been investigated as a potential source of biofuel by scientists in Malaysia, India, and Italy. The update work was conducted by Research Collaborator and diatom expert Ling Ren.

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


May 27, 2016 - ITIS Updates Tingidae of the World

ITIS developed and loaded a complete global species dataset of lacebugs (family Tingidae), that includes some related families with fossil species. These true bugs are named for their distinctive pronotum and forewings, which are divided into a fine network of subdivisions that resembles lace, and are often extended into a hood-like cover over the head. The Tingidae includes 2616 species (56 fossil, 2560 extant), of which 165 are cited for North America (6 of those are fossil, 159 extant). This update added 3262 names (valid and synonymous) to ITIS.

The inclusion of fossil Tingidae adds three other adjacent families (Ignotingidae, Hispanocaderidae, and Ebboidae), to give ITIS complete coverage to what used to be the superfamily Tingoidea; several papers over the last decade have concluded that this superfamily should be merged with the much larger superfamily Miroidea.

Daniel Perez-Gelabert (Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History) compiled the Tingidae global species dataset.

As with all ITIS data, the Tingidae data are freely and completely available to taxonomists maintaining specialized external datasets in the hope that they will find them useful.

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


May 27, 2016 - ITIS Updates Hydraenidae of the World

ITIS has updated the complete global species database of minute moss beetles (family Hydraenidae). These beetles inhabit littoral zones and wet areas along the margins of streams, pools, and other bodies of water; they are generally herbivores or saprotrophs. Fossils from the lower Jurassic have been found, making them among the oldest beetle fossils.

ITIS has maintained Hydraenidae since 2011, when the global species dataset of 1,629 valid species was included in ITIS. This ITIS minute moss beetle update brings the currency of the group to 2016 and includes 1,927 species, with 95 species occurring in North America. This update added 1719 names (valid and synonymous) to ITIS.

Daniel Perez-Gelabert (Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History) compiled the Hydraenidae global species dataset.

As with all ITIS data, the Hydraenidae data are freely and completely available to taxonomists maintaining specialized external datasets in the hope that they will find them useful.

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


May 2, 2016 - ITIS Updates 10 Avian Orders

ITIS has updated its global coverage of 10 bird orders:

Apterygiformes - Kiwis
Casuariiformes - Cassowaries, Emus
Rheiformes - Rheas
Struthioniformes - Ostriches
Tinamiformes - Tinamous
Eurypygiformes - Sunbittern, Kagu
Mesitornithiformes - Mesites
Phaethontiformes - Tropicbirds
Phoenicopteriformes - Flamingos
Podicipediformes - Grebes

The update includes 97 species and 206 subspecies worldwide. One species of Grebe, the Junín Grebe Podiceps taczanowskii von Berlepsch & Stolzmann, 1894, is flightless and found only on Lake Junín in the mountains of west-central Peru. It suffered a rapid decline starting in the 1960's when nesting habitat in the reedy marshes bordering the lake were negatively impacted by mining that altered the lake's water level. Conservation efforts to improve water quality and control water levels to the benefit of the Junín Grebe prevented the species from becoming extinct (Butchart et al., 2006). Conservation concern still exists for the species because of its low population size (100-300 individuals) and endemism. The Junín Grebe has been listed as an Endangered Species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act since 2012.

The update was completed by ITIS staff. Sara N. Alexander coordinated the update work and data development assistance came from David Mitchell. The source of the update was the IOC World Bird List (v 5.4). Managing Editors of the World Bird List David Donsker and Frank Gill provided taxonomic and nomenclatural guidance, and Alan Peterson of Zoonomen was a critical aid during the update.

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


April 6, 2016 - ITIS Updates Lizard Beetles of North America

ITIS has added full and current coverage of lizard beetles for North America. The update includes the following 5 subfamilies in beetle family Erotylidae, the pleasing fungus beetles:

Cryptophilinae
Languriinae
Loberinae
Pharaxonothinae
Xenoscelinae

The adults of lizard beetles feed on pollen and foliage of host plants. The larvae of most species are stem borers, tunneling inside the stems of host plants to feed on the inner portions of the stem. Other species in the family Erotylidae forage on fungus as larvae and adults, but lizard beetles transitioned from mycophagy to phytophagy over their evolutionary history (Robertson et al., 2004).

The ITIS lizard beetle update includes 53 species, with 38 species occurring in North America. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

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


April 6, 2016 - ITIS Updates Checkered Beetles of North America

ITIS has added the full and current coverage of checkered beetles (family Cleridae) for North America. Checkered beetles are found worldwide and have a variety of feeding habits, but most genera are predacious.

In North America species in the genus Trichodes Herbst, 1792 are pollen feeders and pollinators. The larvae of most of these species are predators of solitary bees. The females lay their eggs in a bee nest and the larvae prey on the bee brood and eat the pollen provisions.

The ITIS checkered beetle update includes 296 species, with 276 species occurring in North America. The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

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


April 6, 2016 - ITIS Updates Clown Beetles of the World

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of the clown beetles (family Histeridae). Species in this family inhabit a wide variety of niches and exhibit a breadth of morphological diversity. There are species associated with rotting vegetation, carrion, or dung; and other species that live in positive association with ants and termites. The recently described Strigister tecolotito Caterino, Tishechkin and Proudfoot, 2013 has been found in the nest cavities of the Eastern Screech Owl Megascops asio (Linnaeus, 1758) and the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium brasilianum (Gmelin, 1788), where they presumably prey upon dipteran and other arthropods in the nest microhabitat (Caterino et al., 2013).

ITIS has maintained this family since 2010 when the global species dataset of 4,304 valid species were added to the ITIS database. This update brings the currency of the group to 2016 and includes 4,643 species, with 402 species occurring in North America.

Maintenance of the Histeridae 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 .


April 6, 2016 - ITIS Updates Tuataras, Recognizing a Single Species Instead of Two

Tuataras are the only living members of the order Rhynchocephalia. These reptiles resemble lizards, but unlike lizards their internal anatomy shares features similar to turtles and crocodiles. Tuataras are endemic to New Zealand. They were once found on the New Zealand mainland but after the arrival of humans and other mammals tuataras were extirpated from the mainland 8,000-12,000 years ago. Now they are found on about 30 surrounding islands.

The Brothers Island tuatara Sphenodon guntheri Buller, 1877, confined to North Brother Island in Cook Strait, was once thought to be distinct from Sphenodon punctatus (Gray, 1842) in part because of its much smaller size. In a study examining the genetic diversity of tuataras Hay et al. (2010) synonymized guntheri with punctatus after concluding Sphenodon should be treated as a single species with distinctive geographic variants that evolved independently of each other on isolated islands.

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

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


February 29, 2016 - ITIS Updates Four Subfamilies of Crabronidae of the World

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of four of the eight subfamilies in Crabronidae (sphecoid wasps): Astatinae, Dinetinae, Eremiaspheciinae, and Mellininae. Like all sphecoid wasps, crabronid wasps are predatory and provision their nest with paralyzed prey for their larvae to eat. Sphecoid wasps have long been recognized as being closely related to bees. Traditionally they have been treated as sister groups; some modern research indicates that bees arose from within the Crabronidae.

This update of four subfamilies includes 209 valid and accepted species - of which 43 are cited for North America. The update work was coordinated by Sara N. Alexander of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS Program. Data Development assistance came from Elizabeth A. Sellers of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and the USGS BISON program. The update was completed with taxonomic assistance from Wojciech J. Pulawski (California Academy of Sciences) and was based on his Catalog of Sphecidae.

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


February 8, 2016 - ITIS Updates Primates of the World

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of the mammal order Primates. The update includes the newly recognized white-cheeked macaque Macaca leucogenys Li, Zhao and Fan, 2015. The species is found in southeastern Tibet, China, and may extend to regions of Southeast Tibet controlled by India. Other recently described primate taxa from the same area include Macaca munzala Sinha, Datta, Madhusudan and Mishra, 2005, Hoolock hoolock mishmiensis Choudhury, 2013, and Rhinopithecus strykeri Geissmann, Ngwe Lwin, Saw Soe Aung, Thet Naing Aung, Zin Myo Aung, Tony Htin Hla et al., 2010 (Li et al., 2015).

The ITIS Primate treatment now includes 505 species, of which 3 are cited for North America. The update work was coordinated and completed by Sara N. Alexander of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program, with data development assistance from Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. 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 13, 2016 - ITIS Updates Dilaridae of the World

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of the pleasing lacewings (Dilaridae). This small family (89 species) consists of neuropterous insects that resemble small brown moths with rounded wings that are hairy and sometimes transparent. The first species described was from southern Spain near Granada. Now species have been described from other localities in Europe as well as Africa, Asia, and North and South America. Two species occur in the United States. Nallachius americanus (McLachlan, 1881) is widely distributed in the eastern United States. The type of Nallachius pulchellus (Banks, 1938) is from Cuba, and the species has a range extending from the southwestern United States to Honduras and Trinidad including some of the West Indies.

The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Data Development assistance came from Alicia Hodson and Sara N. Alexander of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program. The update was completed using the most recent taxonomic literature and the Neuropterida Species of the World database maintained by Professor John Oswald of Texas A&M University.

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


November 24, 2015 - ITIS Updates Zoraptera of the World

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of the insect order Zoraptera. Zorapterans resemble termites in appearance, and live in small colonies inside or under fallen and decomposing wood. They are typically tropical species, but Zorotypus hubbardi Caudell, 1918 is widespread in the United States and the range of Zorotypus snyderi Caudell, 1920 extends into Florida (USA) from islands of the Caribbean.

ITIS has maintained this small order of insects since 2004 when the global data species dataset of 32 valid species was first added to the ITIS database. Revisions in 2012, 2013, and now 2015 have updated the total valid species count to 49, with 40 of them extant and 9 described from fossils.

The maintenance of the Zoraptera 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 .


November 24, 2015 - ITIS Updates Grylloblattodea of the World

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of the insect order Grylloblattodea. Grylloblattids are wingless, scavenging insects. They are also cryophilic, often occurring in high alpine regions at the edges of glaciers or snow fields foraging where wind-blown insects and organic detritus accumulate. In North America all species are restricted to western alpine areas with low annual temperatures and extensive snowfall. A recent conservation assessment ranked all North American taxa from near-threatened to endangered (Schoville and Graening, 2013). During unfavorable climatic conditions grylloblattids seek the refuge of subterranean retreats and wait for favorable conditions; the disappearance of snowpack and sustained increase in mean annual temperatures could lower their survival in these retreats if they aren't able to persist until cool, snowy conditions return (Schoville and Graening, 2013). http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3737.4.2

ITIS has maintained this order of insects since 2005 when the global species dataset of 27 valid species was first added to the ITIS database. A revision in 2012 and now in 2015 brings the total valid species count to 33, with 15 occurring in North America.

Maintenance of the Grylloblattodea 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 .


November 24, 2015 - ITIS Updates Mantophasmatodea of the World

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of the insect order Mantophasmatodea. Commonly called gladiators, mantophasmatids are wingless, predatory insects first described in 2002. Most extant species are found in South Africa and Namibia, with one species found in Tanzania.

ITIS has maintained this order of insects since 2002 when the global species dataset of 15 valid species was first added to the ITIS database. An update in 2012 brought the total valid species count to 24. No new species have been described since then. This update brings the currency of the group to 2015 and clarifies spelling of several names with nomenclatural comments.

Maintenance of the Mantophasmatodea 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 .


November 24, 2015 - ITIS Updates Canidae of the World

ITIS has updated the complete global species dataset of the mammal family Canidae (wolves, coyotes, and jackals). The update includes the newly recognized African golden wolf Canis anthus F. Cuvier, 1820. The African golden wolf is the first new canid species discovered in 150 years. Formerly the species was recognized as Canis aureus anthus F. Cuvier, 1820, an African lineage of the golden jackal of Eurasia. The Eurasian golden jackal Canis aureus Linnaeus, 1758 appears very similar to the African golden wolf, but genetic evidence reveals they have been evolving separately but in parallel for millennia (Koepfli et al., 2015). https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.06.060

The ITIS Canidae update includes 36 species - of which 8 are cited for North America. The update work was coordinated and completed by Sara N. Alexander of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program, with data development assistance from Alicia Hodson of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program.

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


November 24, 2015 - ITIS Updates Eumops species

ITIS has updated the completed global species dataset of the mammal order Chiroptera (bats). The update includes the newly described Chiribaya's Bonneted Bat Eumops chiribaya Medina, Gregorin, Zeballos, Zamora and Moras, 2014. Eumops chiribaya occurs in the coastal desert of southwestern Peru, an area noted for high bat diversity that includes insectivorous, frugivorous, and nectarivorous species (Medina et al., 2014).

The ITIS Eumops update includes 16 species - of which 3 are cited for North America. The update work was coordinated and completed by Sara N. Alexander of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program.

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


October 30, 2015 - ITIS Updates Mantidflies of the World

ITIS has just added a complete global species dataset of Mantispidae (mantidflies or mantisflies) to the ITIS database. These predatory insects are mantis-like in appearance, with raptorial forelegs and large eyes. Mantispid larvae in the subfamily Mantispinae are parasites of spiders or wasps. Larvae feed on spider eggs and gain access to spider egg sacs by finding and piercing the sac, or will board spiders and then leave the female and enter into the forming egg sac. Adults of Euclimacia Enderlein, 1910 mimic their wasp hosts, which presumably gives them some protection against predation. However, not much is known about the non-reproductive ecology and behavior of adult mantidflies.

The ITIS update of Mantispidae includes 401 species (with 13 species occurring in North America). The update work was coordinated by Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Data Development assistance came from Sara N. Alexander and Ted R. Kahn of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program. The update was completed using Michael Ohl's Annotated Catalog of the Mantispidae of the World published in 2004, and the most recent taxonomic literature.

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


October 30, 2015 - ITIS Updates 7 Avian Families

ITIS has updated its global coverage of 7 bird families:

Calcariidae - Snow Buntings and Longspurs
Cardinalidae - Grosbeaks and Cardinals
Coerebidae - Bananaquits
Emberizidae - Towhees, New World Sparrows, and Buntings
Fringillidae - Finches and Hawaiian Honeycreepers
Thraupidae - Tanagers
Urocynchramidae - monotypic family of Przevalski's Finch, Urocynchramus pylzowi Przewalski, 1876

The update includes 857 species and 1,868 subspecies worldwide, including a new subspecies of Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs harterti Svensson, 2015. The update was completed by ITIS staff. Sara N. Alexander coordinated the update work and data development assistance came from David Mitchell. The source of the update was the IOC World Bird List (v 5.3). Managing Editors of the World Bird List David Donsker and Frank Gill provided taxonomic and nomenclatural guidance, and Alan Peterson of Zoonomen was a critical aid during the update.

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


September 18, 2015 - ITIS Updates Acanthocephala (spiny-headed worms)

ITIS has added a complete global dataset of Acanthocephala (spiny-headed worms or thorny-headed worms) to the ITIS database. These intestinal parasites have a spiny proboscis that they evert and embed into the mucosal lining of the gut of their host. Acanthocephalans lack a mouth and gut tract. Once a worm is secured within the intestines of their host, acanthocephalans absorb nutrients through their body surface.

Some species of Acanthocephala will alter the behavior of their host. Terrestrial isopods are an intermediate host of Plagiorhynchus cylindraceus (Goeze, 1782). This species of Acanthocephala reaches its definitive host, typically robins (Turdus migratorius Linnaeus, 1766) or European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris Linnaeus, 1758), when the intermediate host is ingested and the parasite is released. When infected with Plagiorhynchus cylindraceus, isopods become more active and frequent uncovered, light-colored areas on the forest floor, making them more conspicuous to their avian predators. The acanthocephalan's life cycle is completed when the worm reproduces inside the bird, releasing eggs that are passed out in the bird's feces eventually to be consumed by isopods.

The ITIS Acanthocephala update includes 1,318 species - of which 132 are cited for North America. The update work was completed by Thomas M. Orrell, Sara N. Alexander, and Alicia Hodson of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program. Anna J. Phillips (Research Zoologist, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution) provided access to the Parasitology Reprint Library in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology and provided advice for this news item.

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


September 4, 2015 - ITIS Updates Hemichordata of the World

ITIS has added a complete global dataset of Hemichordata to the ITIS database. Species in this phylum of marine worm-shaped invertebrates are often used to study the phylogeny and molecular development of the chordate body plan. Among invertebrates hemichordates are some of the closest living relatives to vertebrates. Ptychodera flava Eschscholtz, 1825, found in the shallow waters of the tropical Indian Ocean and waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands, can restore large parts of their bodies when amputated and are noted for having the ability to regenerate extensive portions of their nervous systems. The robust regenerative attributes of this species and other hemichordates, and the phylogenetic closeness of chordates and hemichordates, make them model organisms for studying regenerative medicine.

The ITIS Hemichordata update includes 138 species. The update work was completed by Ted R. Kahn, Sara N. Alexander of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program, and Daniel Perez-Gelabert of the Smithsonian Institution ITIS program and Research Collaborator, Department of Entomology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Taxonomic guidance was provided by Dr. Karen J. Osborn (Research Zoologist, Curator of Polychaeta and Peracarida, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution).

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


July 31, 2015 – ITIS Updates Asteroidea of the World

ITIS has added a complete global dataset of Asteroidea (sea stars/starfish) to the ITIS database. Asteroids are marine invertebrates found from the intertidal zone down to depths of 6000m. Most are star-shaped, but some are pentagonal, spherical, or flat and paper-like. Along the U.S. and Canadian Pacific Coast populations of sea stars have suffered sudden mortality from 'Sea Star Wasting Disease', an epidemic researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and other institutions have linked to sea star associated densovirus (SSaDV) - a virus that impacts nearly 20 species.

Christopher Mah of the Department of Invertebrate Zooology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, is the steward for the group and provided ITIS with source data from the World Asteroidea Database. Thomas M. Orrell of the Smithsonian ITIS program worked with the steward to refine the data export, and Sara N. Alexander of the Smithsonian ITIS program helped proof the work. The ITIS Asteroidea includes 1,835 valid species including the newly described Evoplosoma watlingi Mah, 2015, a coral devouring sea star described by Christopher Mah and discovered by Dr. Les Watling in 2004 during an expedition to Bear Seamount in the North Atlantic.

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


June 29, 2015 – Freshwater Mussels

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

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

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


June 29, 2015 – ITIS Updates Antlions of the World

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

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

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


June 8, 2015 – ITIS Gets Worms

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

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

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

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


May 1, 2015 – ITIS Updates Muroidea of the World

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

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

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


April 30, 2015 – New Higher Level Classification of Life

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

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


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

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

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

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


January 29, 2015 – ITIS Updates Strepsiptera of the World

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

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

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


December 22, 2014 – ITIS Updates Fireflies of the World

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


June 11, 2013 – New Taxon Compare Tool

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


May 17, 2013 – New ITIS Database Formats

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


January 31, 2013 – ITIS Databse Gets New Columns

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

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

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

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


December 12, 2012 – ITIS Web Service Update Includes JSON!

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

  • ITIS Scientific Name services now include the Author name.
  • All Hierarchy services now include Rank names.
  • A JSON output service has been added.

The JSON service provides access to all the Web Service APIs, but returns data in JSON format for use with machine parsing and applications such as AJAX web pages.

For details about using the JSON calls, see the Web Service Documentation. Please direct any questions to the ITIS team at itiswebmaster@itis.gov

To News Topics


September 14, 2012 – ITIS Hierarchy Table Changes

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:

  • TSN - the TSN this hierarchy string relates to
  • Parent_TSN - the immediate parent of the TSN
  • level - the number of steps down the hierarchy this TSN is located
  • ChildrenCount - the number of children this TSN has.

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

To News Topics


September 12, 2012 – ITIS Adds RSS Feeds

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 RSS Feed 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 itiswebmaster@itis.gov

To News Topics


May 21, 2009 – ITIS Web Services Available

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

To News Topics


June 11, 2008 – Newly Compiled Online Bee Checklist Allows Biologists To Link Important Information About All Bee Species 

In 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.

“At a time when biological diversity is suspected to be declining at an alarming rate, it is important to have a solid baseline from which to measure future trends,” said Michael Ruggiero, senior scientist for the Integrated Taxonomic Information System at the National Museum of Natural History, who led the recently completed project. “This is very exciting because bees are critical for pollinating flowering plants, including most non-cereal food crops.”

“Honey bees are the most economically important pollinators and are currently in the news because of colony collapse disorder,” said John S. Ascher, a collaborator on the project from the American Museum of Natural History in New York. “Only about 500 bee species produce honey. Most species, however, do not produce honey or live in hives, yet they are crucial pollinators of crops and native plants.”

Taxonomy is the science of species classification. The bee checklist includes currently accepted scientific names, synonyms and common names; a current, complete and authoritative taxonomic checklist is key to linking all information about species. The scientific name acts as the common denominator to connect like information. Taxonomic information is not fixed and throughout time biologists reclassify species as a result of new discoveries or new research. “

The bee checklist acts as a taxonomic ‘Rosetta Stone’ that will enhance communication, information exchange and data repatriation about bees. The completed checklist is a first step in modeling and forecasting future population trends,” said Ruggiero.

Compiling the checklist has taken more than five years and the efforts of leading bee taxonomists on six continents. The checklist, coordinated by the staff of the Integrated Taxonomic Information System, a public–private partnership hosted at the National Museum of Natural History, is available at www.itis.gov. Major supporters of the project were the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, based in Copenhagen, Denmark, which is dedicated to making global biodiversity data accessible anywhere in the world, and the U.S.-based National Biological Information Infrastructure, a broad, collaborative program to provide increased access to data and information on the nation’s biological resources.

Important scientific contributors to the World Bee Checklist project include John S. Ascher, American Museum of Natural History, United States; Connal Eardley, Plant Protection Research Institute, South Africa; Terry Griswold, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Gabriel Melo, Federal University of Parana, Brazil; David Nicolson, U.S. Geological Survey; David Remsen, Global Biodiversity Information Facility, Denmark; Andrew Polaszek, Natural History Museum, United Kingdom; Osamu Tadauchi, University of Kyushu, Japan; Ken Walker, Museum Victoria, Australia; Natapot Warrit, Smithsonian Institution, United States; and Paul Williams, Natural History Museum, United Kingdom.

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April 2, 2007 – Catalogue of Life Reaches One Million Species

The Species 2000 & 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 (www.catalogueoflife.org), 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.

The project is led by Dr. Thomas Orrell, of the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) based at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC, and by the University of Reading's Professor Frank Bisby of the Species 2000 organization, based at the University's Centre for Plant Diversity and Systematics.

Dr. Orrell said: "The catalogue will cover all known living organisms, such as plants, animals and fungi, and micro-organisms such as bacteria, chromista, protozoa, archaea and viruses."

Professor Bisby said: "This electronic checklist is the modern successor to the work started by Linnaeus whose 300th birthday is celebrated this year. It now delivers one million of the world's described species, from whales to bacteria, mosses to moths, seaweeds to viruses."

A joint biological and informatics team integrates information from individual databases in the taxonomic classification. Information on exactly which species should be recognized is validated by experts before being integrated, a vital difference compared to some other catalogues available on the Internet.

The project is on course to deliver the fundamental organism catalogue needed both by the present generation of international biodiversity programs and the next generation now in planning, such as the Global Species Information System proposed by the G8 Environment Ministers in Potsdam two weeks ago.

It is a keystone component in building the world's biodiversity knowledge systems of the future. It also facilitates analytical systems working on species, such as modeling and predicting climate change outcomes on a global scale.

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July 28, 2004 – ITIS has been included in Thomson ISI's "Current Web Contents"

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.

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December 19, 2003 – ITIS Signs Agreement with Species 2000 and the Global Biodiversity
Information Facility to Build Catalog of Life

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.

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April 10, 2003 – Mullidae of the World Added to ITIS

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.


April 10, 2003 – Modifications Made to the ITIS Database Schema and Data Element Definitions

As of April 2003, the ITIS database schema and/or data element definitions have been changed as follows:

  • The length of data element, unaccept_reason (unacceptability_reason), has been increased to 50. The unacceptability reasons defined in the ITIS Submittal Guidelines are now fully implemented.
  • The length of data element, origin, has been increased to 50. New origin values, Native and Extirpated, and Native and Extinct, are now included in the definition.
  • The data element, uncertain_prnt_ind (uncertain_parent_indicator), has been added to the taxonomic_units table. This element is defined as char(3) and is optional. It improves the ability to identify taxa whose positions in the hierarchy are uncertain.

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March 26, 2003 – Prototype ITIS Metadata Tool Available

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.

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March 6, 2003 – Pleuronectiformes and Lampridiomorpha of the World Added to ITIS; World Scombridae and Clupeomorpha updated in ITIS.

  • World species of Pleuronectiformes (flatfishes, flounders, soles) and Lampridiomorpha (opahs, ribbonfishes) have been added to the ITIS database.
  • Clupeomorpha of the world (anchovies, herrings) have been updated in ITIS, and World Scombridae (albacores, bonitos, mackerels, tunas) have been updated based on:
    • Collette, Bruce B., Carol Reeb, and Barbara A. Block. 2001. Systematics of the Tunas and Mackerels (Scombridae). In Barbara A. Block and E. Donald Stevens, eds. Fish Physiology, vol. 19: Tuna: Physiology, Ecology, and Evolution. pp. 1-33.

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August 20, 2002 – Actiniaria, Pontoniinae, Macrobrachium, and Cetaceans of the World, and the New Insect Order Mantophasmatodea Added to ITIS

  • A world list of sea anemones, Order Actiniaria, has been added to ITIS. This work by Dr. Daphne Fautin is supported by a National Science Foundation PEET Program (Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy) grant.
  • Two world lists of caridean shrimps, Subfamily Pontoniinae and Genus Macrobrachium, have been added to ITIS based on Chace and Bruce, 1993, with updates from a list maintained by Dr. Brian Kensley.
  • Cetaceans (species and subspecies) of the world have been added to ITIS based on Wilson and Reeder (eds.), 1993, and Rice, 1998, and newly described species through July 2002. Classification and synonymy changes have been provided by Dr. James Mead, ITIS data steward for cetaceans.
  • Mantophasmatodea, a new insect order with extant species in the Afrotropics has been added to ITIS based on Klass, Zompro, Kristensen, and Adis, 2002.

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June 19, 2002 – Ceraphronoidea (parasitoid wasps) of the World Added to ITIS. Chaetodontidae (butterflyfishes) and Pomacanthidae (angelfishes) of the World Updated.

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.

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February 25, 2002 – Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera, Terrestrial Isopoda, and Crangonyx Species Added to ITIS

  • In collaboration with Dr. W. P. McCafferty, Department of Entomology, Purdue University, ITIS has updated the Ephemeroptera for North and Central America based on the Mayfly Central database (version February 2001).
  • Plecoptera (stoneflies) have been updated in ITIS based on the North American Stonefly List (version 2/16/01) maintained by Dr. Bill P. Stark, Professor of Biology, Mississippi College, Clinton, MS.
  • Trichoptera have been added to ITIS based on the Trichoptera World Checklist of January 2001, coordinated by Dr. John Morse, Clemson University, Clemson, SC. John Morse is ITIS steward for caddisflies.
  • A world list of terrestrial Isopoda has been added to ITIS based on two checklists: the 1998 version of the World List of Terrestrial Crustacea Isopoda compiled by Dr. Brian Kensley, and Marilyn Schotte, Department of Systematic Biology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, and Steve Schilling, U.S. Enviromental Protection Agency, Washington, DC; and, the 1999 Checklist of the Terrestrial Isopods of the New World (Crustacea, Isopoda, Oniscidea) by Andreas Leistikow and Johann W. Wägele.
  • The Crangonyx (Amphipoda) species of the world have been added to ITIS based on the work of Dr. John Holsinger, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA.

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February 22, 2002 – ITIS Partnership Welcomes NatureServe

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.

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December 6, 2001 – A New Consolidated 'Standard' Report is Introduced

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:

Taxonomic Serial No. (TSN) Currency Rating
Taxonomic Rank Taxonomic Hierarchy with Links
Synonym(s) Reference Expert(s)
Common Name(s) Reference Other Source(s)
Current Standing Reference Publication(s)
Unacceptability Reason Geographic Division
Taxonomic Credibility Rating Jurisdiction/Origin
Taxonomic Completeness Rating Comments

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.

Instructions for Linking Directly to the ITIS Standard Report from another website.

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September 17, 2001 – Great Lakes Diatoms and New World Odonates Added to ITIS

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.

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July 31, 2001 – Ant Subspecies of the World Added to ITIS

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.

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July 25, 2001 – ITIS North America Web Site Launched

Canadian, Mexican, and U.S. ITIS partners announced the availability of two new taxonomy websites at the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation in Guadalajara, Mexico, on June 22, 2001. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), the Mexican National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO), and US ITIS jointly launched two new web sites for the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS): a Spanish version for Mexico (SIIT*mx), and a trilingual (English, French, Spanish) version for North America (ITIS*na).

The ITIS North America web site provides basic scientific information on the nomenclature, taxonomy, and common names in English, French and Spanish, of large numbers of life forms. It also acts as a gateway to additional information by providing users with an innovative "Internet Search Portal". This portal automatically uses ITIS information to boost the relevance of specific queries in several major Internet search engines. It also facilitates access to other specialized databases in such areas as biotechnology, genomics, botany, entomology, bibliographies, or to numerous collections of biological specimen and observation data. The site has additional links to Species 2000 and Global Biodiversity information Facility (GBIF) web sites.

The ITIS North America web site is accessible at: http://www.cbif.gc.ca/itis/.

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July 25, 2001 – ITIS and Species 2000 Challenge Scientists to complete the "Catalog of Life"

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.

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June 26, 2001 – ITIS Has a New Look

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.

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June 12, 2001 – Herpetofauna of Mexico Added to ITIS

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.

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March 2001 – Ant Species of the World 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.

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March 2001 – ITIS joins Global Biodiversity Information Facility as founding member

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.

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October 2000 – ITIS Customized Download Functionality Now Available

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:

  • XML
  • ITIS Taxonomic Workbench (TWB)
  • ASCII delimited.

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September 1999 – ITIS*ca Goes Public

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.

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August 1999 – References Restructuring Information is Posted

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.

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July 1999 – ITIS Director is Named

To our ITIS Partners, Collaborators, and Friends:

I am very pleased to announce that Dr. Michael Ruggiero has accepted the position as the USGS Program Director for the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).

As ITIS Program Director, Dr. Ruggiero will lead USGS participation in the ITIS partnership, as well as working with the many other US, Canadian, and Mexican agencies, organizations, and taxonomic specialists that participate in ITIS to coordinate its overall development and growth.

Since 1998, Mike has been the International Biodiversity Coordinator for the Department of the Interior, where he represented the Department and the US government on technical matters relating to biological diversity. From 1994 to 1998, he served as Leader of the National Biological Status and Trends Program of the US Geological Survey (and the former National Biological Service). In 1996, Mike worked in the White House Office of Science and Technology on environmental monitoring and biodiversity issues. He served in the National Park Service for 12 years --- the last five as the Chief of the NPS Wildlife and Vegetation Division in Washington, D.C. Mike earned a Ph.D. in zoology from George Washington University, specializing in insect ecology and evolution. He has published numerous professional and popular papers in ecology, entomology, and inventory and monitoring and has served as a scientific advisor for numerous national and international programs related to biodiversity and ecological research.

Mike will officially assume his new ITIS duties as of August 1. He will have an office in the National Museum of Natural History in downtown Washington.

This is a significant step in advancing the objectives of the ITIS partnership and we are fortunate to have someone with Mike's experience and expertise to take on this new coordinating role for ITIS. I know you will all join me in welcoming Mike to the ITIS Team and in working with him to help us enhance and strengthen our partnerships.

Gladys Cotter
Associate Chief Biologist for Information
US Geological Survey

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November 1998 – ITIS is Highlighted in Government's AmericaAccess Online Magazine

ITIS is highlighted in a feature article in Access America Online Magazine. The article is entitled:
"Uncommon System for Naming Species Answers Common Need—and It’s on the Internet."

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June 1998 – US and Canada to Enhance ITIS

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."

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May 1998 – ITIS Recognized In THE SCOUT REPORT

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.

Websites recognized in The Scout Report are identified and evaluated by a team of professional librarians and subject matter experts who select, research, and annotate each resource so recognized. The Scout Report is the "flagship publication" of the Internet Scout Project of the Department of Computer Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Madison and is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Published continuously for over three years, The Scout Report is one of the Internet's oldest and most respected publications.

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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.

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July 1997 – The Taxonomic Resources Expertise Directory (TRED) is NOW AVAILABLE!

For more detailed information about the TRED, access the TRED now.

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May 1997 – ITIS Name Change Reflects International Role

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:

  • ITIS relies on the full partnership involvement of the US taxonomic community, both in and out of government, and ITIS is intended to help meet the needs of all users of taxonomic nomenclature and identifiers, whether in or out of government. Thus, the word "Interagency" was misleading in that it could be interpreted as meaning that ITIS was an exclusively governmental project.

  • ITIS has been officially recognized in Vice President Gore's Access America -- Reengineering Through Information Technology. This is a report of the National Performance Review and the Government Information Technology Services Board. The report recommends, in part, that "The federal ITIS partners should continue to look for opportunities to enhance and expand the ITIS through partnerships with the non-federal sector and in the international community." This charge from the Administration further endorses ITIS' role in the international scientific community.

  • ITIS has been asked to allow Agriculture-Canada and CONABIO - Comision Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (Mexico) to become partners in the development and maintenance of the ITIS database. The Steering Committee approved these requests and partnerships with these two international organizations will commence later this year.

  • ITIS relies on a strong relationship between sponsoring partner organizations and the world taxonomic community. The true partnership of ITIS, therefore, is significantly beyond a US federal agency partnership.

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September 1996 – Efforts continue to establish partnerships with potential contributors and stewards.

Inquiries by or references to potential collaborators are always welcome.

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