Catalogue of Life

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The Catalogue of Life is planned to become a comprehensive catalogue of all known species of organisms on Earth by the year 2011. Rapid progress has been made recently and this, the seventh edition of the Annual Checklist, contains 1,008,965 species. Please note that this is probably just more than half of the world's known species. This means that for many groups it continues to be deficient.

The present Catalogue is compiled with sectors provided by 47 taxonomic databases from around the world. Many of these contain taxonomic data and opinions from extensive networks of specialists, so that the complete work contains contributions from more than 3,000 specialists from throughout the taxonomic profession. Species 2000 and ITIS teams peer review databases, select appropriate sectors and integrate the sectors into a single coherent catalogue with a single hierarchical classification. It is planned to introduce alternative taxonomic treatments and alternative classifications, but an important feature is that for those users who wish to use it, a single preferred catalogue, based on peer reviews, will continue to be provided.

Published products

The Catalogue is published as two products:

Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2007 Annual Checklist:

The Annual Checklist is published each year as a fixed edition that can be cited and used as a common catalogue for comparative purposes by many organisations. A copy is on the CD-ROM, which is distributed free of charge, and an identical copy is on the website at [1]. Archived earlier editions are also available on the website.

Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: Dynamic Checklist:

The Dynamic Checklist is a virtual catalogue operated on the Internet and available both for users and as an electronic web-service at The Dynamic Checklist harvests taxonomic sectors and associated strands of hierarchical classification dynamically from the source databases across the internet. The Dynamic Checklist is presently less extensive than the Annual Checklist because fewer taxonomic sectors have been connected so far.

It differs in concept from the Annual Checklist in that:

(i) the taxonomic records may be updated and the catalogue changed more frequently than in the Annual Checklist; and
(ii) the Dynamic Checklist contains additional regional species checklists (such as the Regional Checklist - Europe, effectively a Pan-European Species Checklist) not included in the Annual Checklist.

The Catalogue of Life partnership

In June 2001 the Species 2000 and ITIS organisations decided to work together to create the Catalogue of Life. They declared a target for completing coverage for all 1.75 million known species by 2011. The two organisations remain separate and different in structure. However, by working together in creating a common product, the partnership has enabled them to reduce duplication of effort, make better use of resources, and to accelerate production. The combined Annual Checklist on CD-ROM has become well established as a cited reference used for data compilation and comparison. For instance, it is used as the principal taxonomic index in the GBIF data portal and recognised by the CBD.


FA Bisby, YR Roskov, MA Ruggiero, TM Orrell, LE Paglinawan, PW Brewer, N Bailly, J van Hertum, eds (2007). Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2007 Annual Checklist. Digital resource at Catalogue of Life - Checklist. Species 2000: Reading, U.K.

See also

External links