GBIF introduces new version of the backbone taxonomy

Latest update adds 100,000 accepted species names

Gila ditaenia
Sonora chub (Gila ditaenia) collected in Sonora, Mexico. Photo courtesy of University of Texas, Biodiversity Center, Ichthyology Collection (TNHCi).

GBIF Secretariat staff have completed the eighth update of the taxonomic backbone of that serves to match and link all occurrence and checklist records.

The new version of the taxonomy adds approximately 725,000 names, around 85 per cent of them animals. The update also adds 100,000 accepted species names not previously included in the backbone.

Key components of the update include the latest version of the Catalogue of Life, which contributes 3.8 million names, as well as two sets of stable DNA-based Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs), with just over 480,000 Barcode Index Numbers (BINs) coming from the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) and some 160,000 species hypotheses (SHs) for fungi from version 8 of UNITE.

Other major sources of names for the backbone include:

Another improvement is further integration of taxonomic treatments mediated by Plazi, which alone have added than more 48,000 names, largely representing newly described taxa. The full list of sources for the GBIF backbone taxonomy—including exact numbers of names included—is available on the dataset page.

The process of curating the taxonomic backbone is complicated and involves the reindexing of every single occurrence record in GBIF. More information about the backbone structure and how it is assembled is available in this recent blog post.