DATABASES: One-Stop Taxonomy

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Science  27 Feb 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5662, pp. 1267
DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5662.1267b

For years, experts have dreamed of a single Web site that would unite all knowledge of the world's living things. Last month, an effort to do just that debuted: the Global Biodiversity Information Facility's (GBIF's) new Biodiversity Data Portal. The site lets users simultaneously search over 1 million taxonomic records from museum collections, botanical gardens, and global storehouses such as FishBase. Whether you're curious about a mushroom, a newt, or the bacterium that causes tetanus, the portal provides the latest on classification and nomenclature. Some of the 30-plus linked data sources allow you to browse collection and observation records and use them to map species' distributions. Others, such as CephBase, also list details such as diet and size for creatures like the white-spotted octopus (Octopus macropus). GBIF, a consortium of more than 30 countries, hopes that more museums and other organizations will connect their databases.

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