New guide for developing marine species checklists

Document highlights resources specific to marine regions for eventual publishing through GBIF

GBIF has published a new guide highlighting some of the procedures and online resources to help build and maintain species checklists for marine regions.

The publication, Best Practice Guidelines in the Development and Maintenance of Regional Marine Species Checklists, outlines the steps required to compile distribution notes, to set up a register, and to produce a checklist. It also describes some of stumbling blocks that might be encountered along the way, and offers suggestions on how to overcome them.

The publication was developed for GBIF by its marine biodiversity partners: the Ocean Biogeographic Information Systems (OBIS), the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. It complements other recent GBIF publications on developing species checklists and taxonomic names, all available through the GBIF Online Resource Centre.

One of the authors of the document, Claude Nozères from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, says, “Compared to terrestrial sources, marine regions present a number of different challenges when compiling and reviewing biodiversity data. Many species may be poorly-known or waiting to be discovered, while offshore marine habitats are difficult to explore and define.

“We hope that by providing simple advice, more marine biodiversity data may become mobilized. The act of creating species lists may even lead to the discovery and clean-up of datasets, thus preparing the way for advanced preparation of data publishing following international standards.”

Some of the challenges highlighted in the guide include retaining consistency in species names, listing marine species that are located beyond a country’s boundaries, and providing precise geo-reference information.

The guide explains to users how to match their name lists using the WoRMS, which is the leading source of names for marine taxa. It also illustrates how to search for marine region definitions using OBIS and marine gazetteers such as VLIMAR, developed by the Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ. The resulting checklists may be made available for publishing via GBIF and serve as a valuable reference source.

For more information please contact:

Alberto González Talaván

GBIF Secretariat