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Expanding MolluscaBase – welcoming freshwater and terrestrial editors during a WoRMS-LifeWatch workshop

Added on 2018-02-19 10:15:10 by Vandepitte, Leen
In the week of 5-9 February, the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) – host of Aphia, the online platform behind WoRMS and its many subregisters – welcomed Mollusca-experts for 4 days, to expand the content of MolluscaBase with their freshwater and terrestrial representatives and to document species traits.
Eleven taxonomic experts joined the Data Management Team in Oostende, to learn how to use the online editing platform so they can add the freshwater and terrestrial counterparts to the already ongoing initiative of MolluscaBase, which had until recently had a focus on documenting its marine representatives. In 2017, the terrestrial Mollusca part of Fauna Europaea and the bivalves parts of InvertEBase (Authority files of U.S. and Canadian land and freshwater mollusks) were added to MolluscaBase as well as a master list of the genus-group names of land snails of the world, creating the backbone and nucleus of the non-marine part of the database.

During the workshop, attention was given on how to add information to through the online interface, and on how to deal with e.g. the status of a name, names including subgenera, and the treatment of names that are first published electronically. During two days of hands-on work, almost 200 species were newly added through the online interface. On  top of that, the upload, by the DMT, of an existing file from one of the editors resulted in an additional growth of MolluscaBase with more than 600 valid species, bringing the total entry of new Mollusc species during the workhop to about 940! And also immediately after the workshop, the addition of species continued, resulting in an extra >700 species being added.There are now exactly 65,000 valid species of molluscs in MolluscaBase, of which 47,696 marine, 3,262 fresh, and 5,573 terrestrial (all Recent), plus 8,900 fossil only species. It is expected that it will take 2-3 years to index the remaining valid non-marine species.

In addition, more experienced editors within MolluscaBase dedicated their time to quality controlling and adding new traits information, where they put the focus on (1) functional group information and (2) feeding type information. They were able to verify the already present information on benthos – plankton – nekton – neuston and to add this information on all levels where this was still missing. As a result, all aquatic Mollusca species are now assigned to one of these groups, which is an enormous step forward for the traits-part of the Aphia database! Following the functional group trait, the experts started tackling the feeding mode of Molluscs, which is now documented in detail for about 30% of the Mollusca species. Lastly, the group also paid attention to enriching MolluscaBase with good images, and plans have been made to collaborate with museums and institutions on this topic.

The organisation of the workshop and the support of the Data Management Team (DMT) are supported by LifeWatch Belgium, part of the E-Science European LifeWatch Infrastructure for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research. LifeWatch is a distributed virtual laboratory, which is used for different aspects of biodiversity research. The Taxonomic Backbone of LifeWatch aims at bringing together taxonomic and species-related data and at filling the gaps in our knowledge. In addition, it gives support to taxonomic experts by providing them logistic and financial support for meetings and workshops related to expanding the content and enhancing the quality of taxonomic databases.

Picture: from left to right: David (Dai) Herbert, Philippe Bouchet, Leen Vandepitte (front - DMT), Bram Breure (back), Serge Gofas (front), Maxim Vinarski (back), Barna Pall-Gergely, Frank Köhler (front), Eike Neubert (back), Wim Decock (back - DMT), Ruud Bank (front), Thomas Lanssens (back - DMT), Ira Richling (front), Kevin Verfaille (DMT)

Expanding MolluscaBase – welcoming freshwater and terrestrial editors during a WoRMS-LifeWatch workshop


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