World Register of Marine Species

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World Register of Marine Species
WoRMS (World Register of Marine Species) - logo - 01.jpg
Headquarters Ostend, Belgium
Coordinates 51°13′40.25″N2°56′28.07″E / 51.2278472°N 2.9411306°E / 51.2278472; 2.9411306

The World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) is a taxonomic database that aims to provide an authoritative and comprehensive list of names of marine organisms. [1]

A taxonomic database is a database created to hold information related to biological taxa - for example groups of organisms organized by species name or other taxonomic identifier - for efficient data management and information retrieval as required. Today, taxonomic databases are routinely used for the automated construction of biological checklists such as floras and faunas, both for print publication and online; to underpin the operation of web based species information systems; as a part of biological collection management ; as well as providing, in some cases, the taxon management component of broader science or biology information systems. They are also a fundamental contribution to the discipline of biodiversity informatics.



The content of the registry is edited and maintained by scientific specialists on each group of organism. These taxonomists control the quality of the information, which is gathered from the primary scientific literature as well as from some external regional and taxon-specific databases. WoRMS maintains valid names of all marine organisms, but also provides information on synonyms and invalid names. It is an ongoing task to maintain the registry, since new species are constantly being discovered and described by scientists; in addition, the nomenclature and taxonomy of existing species is often corrected or changed as new research is constantly being published.

In scientific nomenclature, a synonym is a scientific name that applies to a taxon that (now) goes by a different scientific name, although the term is used somewhat differently in the zoological code of nomenclature. For example, Linnaeus was the first to give a scientific name to the Norway spruce, which he called Pinus abies. This name is no longer in use: it is now a synonym of the current scientific name, Picea abies.

Subsets of WoRMS content are made available, and can have separate badging and their own home/launch pages, as "subregisters", such as the World List of Marine Acanthocephala, World List of Actiniaria, World Amphipoda Database, and so on. As of December 2018 there were 60 such taxonomic subregisters, including a number presently under construction. [2] A second category of subregisters comprises regional species databases such as the African Register of Marine Species, Belgian Register of Marine Species, etc., while a third comprises thematic subsets such as the World Register of Deep-Sea species (WoRDSS), World Register of Introduced Marine Species (WRiMS), etc. In all of these cases, the base data are entered and held once only as part of the WoRMS data system for ease of maintenance and data consistency, and are redisplayed as needed in the context of the relevant subregister or subregisters to which they may also belong.

Certain subregisters expand content beyond the original "marine" concept of WoRMS by including freshwater or terrestrial taxa for completeness in their designated area of interest; such records can be excluded from a standard search of WoRMS by selecting appropriate options in the online search interface.


WoRMS was founded in 2008 and grew out of the European Register of Marine Species and the UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO), which was compiled by Jacob van der Land (and several colleagues) at the National Museum of Natural History, Leiden [3] It is primarily funded by the European Union and hosted by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) in Ostend, Belgium. WoRMS has established formal agreements with several other biodiversity projects, including the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and the Encyclopedia of Life. In 2008, WoRMS stated that it hoped to have an up-to-date record of all marine species completed by 2010, the year in which the Census of Marine Life was completed. [4]

MarBEF Data System was a project of the European Union's Network of Excellence which served as a platform to integrate and disseminate knowledge and expertise on marine biodiversity, with informative links to researchers, industry, stakeholders and the general public. The program was funded by the EU and formally ended in 2009. The data system's online Register of Resources (RoR) includes the details of over 1,000 European marine biology experts and their affiliated institutions and publications.

European Union Economic and political union of European states

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 4,475,757 km2 (1,728,099 sq mi) and an estimated population of about 513 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.

Flanders Marine Institute Organization in Flanders, northern Belgium that supports marine research

The Flanders Marine Institute provides a focal point for marine scientific research in Flanders, northern Belgium.

As of February 2018, WoRMS contained listings for 480,931 marine species names (including synonyms) of which 240,633 are valid marine species (95 % checked). Their goal is to have a listing for each of the approximately more than 240,000 marine species. [5] [6]

VLIZ also hosts the Interim Register of Marine and Nonmarine Genera (IRMNG), using a common infrastructure. [7]

Interim Register of Marine and Nonmarine Genera Taxonomic database

The Interim Register of Marine and Nonmarine Genera (IRMNG) is a taxonomic database which attempts to cover published genus names for all domains of life from 1753 in zoology up to approximately 2014, arranged in a single, internally consistent taxonomic hierarchy, for the benefit Biodiversity Informatics initiatives plus general users of biodiversity (taxonomic) information. In addition to containing over 490,000 published genus name instances as at March 2019, the database holds over 1.7 million species names, although this component of the data is not maintained in as current or complete state as the genus-level holdings. IRMNG can be queried online for access to the latest version of the dataset and is also made available as periodic snapshots or data dumps for import/upload into other systems as desired.

See also

Related Research Articles

A genus is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.

Biodiversity Informatics is the application of informatics techniques to biodiversity information for improved management, presentation, discovery, exploration and analysis. It typically builds on a foundation of taxonomic, biogeographic, or ecological information stored in digital form, which, with the application of modern computer techniques, can yield new ways to view and analyse existing information, as well as predictive models for information that does not yet exist. Biodiversity informatics is a relatively young discipline but has hundreds of practitioners worldwide, including the numerous individuals involved with the design and construction of taxonomic databases. The term "Biodiversity Informatics" is generally used in the broad sense to apply to computerized handling of any biodiversity information; the somewhat broader term "bioinformatics" is often used synonymously with the computerized handling of data in the specialized area of molecular biology.

Ocean Biogeographic Information System

The Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) is a web-based access point to information about the distribution and abundance of living species in the ocean. It was developed as the information management component of the ten year Census of Marine Life (CoML) (2001-2010), but is not limited to CoML-derived data, and aims to provide an integrated view of all marine biodiversity data that may be made available to it on an open access basis by respective data custodians. According to its web site as at July 2018, OBIS "is a global open-access data and information clearing-house on marine biodiversity for science, conservation and sustainable development." 8 specific objectives are listed in the OBIS site, of which the leading item is to "Provide [the] world's largest scientific knowledge base on the diversity, distribution and abundance of all marine organisms in an integrated and standardized format".

Catalogue of Life Online database and index of taxa

The Catalogue of Life is an online database that provides the world's most comprehensive and authoritative index of known species of animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms. It was created in 2001 as a partnership between the global Species 2000 and the American Integrated Taxonomic Information System. The Catalogue interface is available in twelve languages and is used by research scientists, citizen scientists, educators, and policy makers. The Catalogue is also used by the Biodiversity Heritage Library, the Barcode of Life Data System, Encyclopedia of Life, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. The Catalogue currently compiles data from 168 peer-reviewed taxonomic databases, that are maintained by specialist institutions around the world. As of 2019, the Catalogue lists 1,837,565 of the world's 2.2m extant species known to taxonomists on the planet at present time.

Natica livida is a species of predatory sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Naticidae, the moon snails.

Sinum minus is a species of predatory sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusc in the family Naticidae, the moon snails.

Texadina sphinctostoma is a species of very small aquatic snail, an operculate gastropod mollusk in the family Cochliopidae.

Benthonellania acuticostata is a species of minute sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusc or micromollusc in the family Rissoidae.

Rissoina krebsii is a species of minute sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk or micromollusk in the family Rissoinidae.

<i>Rissoina multicostata</i> species of mollusc

Rissoina multicostata is a species of minute sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk or micromollusk in the family Rissoinidae.

Rissoina redferni is a species of minute sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk or micromollusk in the family Rissoinidae.

Macromphalina apexplanum is a species of very small sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Vanikoridae.

Macromphalina canarreos is a species of very small sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Vanikoridae.

<i>Pyrgulopsis minkleyi</i> species of mollusc

Nymphophilus minckleyi is a species of very small freshwater snail, an aquatic gastropod mollusk in the family Hydrobiidae.

<i>Anyperodon</i> Genus of fish

Anyperodon is a genus of large marine ray-finned fish in the grouper family. Anyperodon leucogrammicus, the slender grouper, is the only species in the genus. It is found in tropical parts of the Indo-Pacific Ocean.

Bourgueticrinidae is a family of crinoids, containing 2 genera's.

Rhinebothriidea is an order of Cestoda (tapeworms). Members of this order are gut parasites of stingrays.

<i>Nomenclator Zoologicus</i>

Nomenclator Zoologicus is one of the major compendia in the field of zoological nomenclature, compiled by Sheffield Airey Neave and his successors and published in 9 volumes over the period 1939–1994, under the auspices of the Zoological Society of London; a tenth, electronic-only volume was also produced before the project ceased. It contains over 340,000 published name instances with their authorities and details of their original publication, certain nomenclatural notes and cross references, and an indication of the taxonomic group to which each is assigned. An electronic (digitised) version of volumes 1-10 was released online by the uBio project, based at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, in 2004–2005.


  1. "Towards a World Register of Marine Species". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  2. "WoRMS - World Register of Marine Species".
  3. "About". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  4. Catherine Brahic (2008-06-25). "How many species live in the sea?". New Scientist.
  5. "WoRMS - World Register of Marine Species". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2018-02-11.
  6. Costello, MJ; Bouchet, P; Boxshall, GW; Fauchald, K; Gordon, DP; et, al. (2013). "Global coordination and standardisation in marine biodiversity through the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) and related databases". PLOS ONE. 8 (1): e51629. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051629. PMC   3541386 . PMID   23505408.
  7. "Interim Register of Marine and Nonmarine Genera (IRMNG)". Lifewatch regional portal. LifeWatch . Retrieved 10 December 2018.