The Catalogue of Life: Biodiversity Resource and e-Science Gateway
Reference Number: EVR1-CT-2002-20011
Commentators were surprised that there was not already a comprehensive catalogue of organisms to underpin activities on biodiversity in Europe and world-wide. What did exist in Europe were independent taxonomic databases owned and operated separately and based on the extensive taxonomic expertise distributed around Europe. These databases included three major EC-funded taxonomic database projects (covering many groups of organisms indigenous to Europe), and others that were complementary in giving world coverage, in dealing with non-indigenous species encountered in Europe, or dealing with gaps in indigenous European coverage.
The EUROCAT Thematic Network aimed to bring these existing systems into a comprehensive architecture to create a single scientific infrastructure through:
1) developing a Distributed Organisation, able to (i) assemble a comprehensive catalogue of organisms (The EuroCat Catalogue of Life) and (ii) establish a sustainable business plan for developing the catalogue as an ongoing e-Science information-infrastructure.
2) initiating a Biodiversity Resource: the EuroCat Catalogue of Life, a quality, validated, synonymic checklist planned for all species in all groups of organisms, and reaching critical mass during the proposed network project. It initially contained all of the known species of plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms that were currently available, including an integrated view of indigenous and non-indigenous species occurring in Europe. The checklist was composed and maintained from a distributed array of existing taxonomic databases, each enhanced on a continuing basis by taxonomic experts. It allows users to look up the biological information, the classification accepted names, synonyms, and common names of any species, and also to obtain basic factual data about them.
3) testing an e-Science Gateway: the EuroCat Gateway, an electronic gateway that will use the indexing property of the Catalogue to locate precise technical biodiversity information by species from other data systems in Europe and world-wide on the Internet and the GRID. Examples include germplasm sources, access to museum specimens and to ecological data, as well as illustrations and maps.
The Catalogue of Life and the Gateway became a valuable component of GBIF and the proposed ENBI.