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WoRMS: World Register of Marine Species
Citable as data publication
WoRMS Editorial Board (2024). World Register of Marine Species. Available from at VLIZ. Accessed yyyy-mm-dd.

Access data
Dedicated website
Availability: Creative Commons License This dataset is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

An authoritative and comprehensive list of names of marine organisms, including information on synonymy. WoRMS contains both global and regional species lists. more

The aim of a World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) is to provide an authoritative and comprehensive list of names of marine organisms, including information on synonymy. While highest priority goes to valid names, other names in use are included so that this register can serve as a guide to interpret taxonomic literature.

The content of WoRMS is controlled by taxonomic experts, not by database managers. WoRMS has an editorial management system where each taxonomic group is represented by one or more experts who have the authority over the content, and are responsible for controlling the quality of the information. Each of these main taxonomic editors can invite several specialists of smaller groups within their area of responsibility to join them.

This register of marine species grew out of the European Register of Marine Species (ERMS), and its combination with several other species registers maintained at the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ). Rather than building separate registers for all projects, and to make sure taxonomy used in these different projects is consistent, VLIZ developed a consolidated database called ‘Aphia’. A list of marine species registers included in Aphia is available on the website. is the web interface for this database. The WoRMS is an idea that is being developed, and will combine information from Aphia with other authoritative marine species lists which are maintained by others (e.g. AlgaeBase, FishBase, Hexacorallia, NeMys).

Resources to build and Aphia were provided mainly by the EU Network of Excellence ‘Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning’ (MarBEF), and also by the EU funded Species 2000 Europe and ERMS projects. Currently, funding is received through the LifeWatch project, where WoRMS is part of the LifeWatch Taxonomic Backbone.

Aphia contains valid species names, synonyms and vernacular names, and extra information such as literature and biogeographic data. Besides species names, Aphia also contains the higher classification in which each scientific name is linked to its parent taxon. The classification used is a ‘compromise’ between established systems and recent changes. Its aim is to aid data management, rather than suggest any taxonomic or phylogenetic opinion on species relationships.

Keeping WoRMS up-to-date is a continuous process. New information is entered daily by the taxonomic editors and by the members of the Data Management Team. Often data also come in from contributions of large datasets, such as global or regional species lists. No database of this size is without errors and omissions. We can’t promise to make no errors, but we do promise to follow up and give feedback on any communications pointing out errors. Feedback is very welcome!

Access to the data can be obtained either through the online interface or through requesting a download of the database.

Biology, Biology > Ecology - biodiversity
Marine/Coastal, Brackish water, Classification, Species, Taxonomy, World Waters, Animalia, Bacteria, Chromista, Fungi, Plantae, Protozoa, Viruses

Geographical coverage
World Waters [Marine Regions]

Temporal coverage
From 1758 on [In Progress]

Taxonomic coverage
Animalia [WoRMS]
Bacteria [WoRMS]
Chromista [WoRMS]
Fungi [WoRMS]
Plantae [WoRMS]
Protozoa [WoRMS]
Viruses [WoRMS]


Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), moredatabase developer
WoRMS Steering Committee (SC), moredata creator
WoRMS Editorial Board (WoRMS editors), moredata creator

Related datasets
Parent dataset:
Aphia, more
Child datasets:
600 randomly selected marine species from WoRMS, described between 2013 and 2017 with metrics extracted from their original descriptions, more
Personal Decapoda distribution Database for Europe, more
Type locality distributions from the World Register of Marine Species, more
Published datasets:
AfReMaS: African Register of Marine Species, more
AlgaeTraits: a trait database for (European) seaweeds (dataset), more
AlgaeTraits: AlgaeTraits: a trait database for (European) seaweeds (portal), more
ARMS: Arctic Register of Marine Species, more
Ascidiacea World Database, more
BeRMS: Belgian Register of Marine Species, more
Black Sea checklist for Ocean-Ukraine & Sibema, more
CaRMS: Canadian Register of Marine Species, more
ChaRMS: Chinese Register of Marine Species, more
Clarion-Clipperton Zone Species Checklist, more
DecaNet: World List of Decapoda, more
DiatomBase, more
ERMS 2.0: European Register of Marine Species version 2, more
Fauna Italia - Checklist of the species of the Italian Fauna, more
FreshGEN: Freshwater Gastropods of the European Neogene database, more
GCD: Global Compositae Database, more
Gulf of Mexico Register of Marine Species, more
Hans De Blauwe site, more
Hemichordata World Database, more
Hexacorallians of the world, more
HKRMS: Hong Kong Register of Marine Species, more
IOC-UNESCO Taxonomic Reference List of Harmful Micro Algae, more
MSBIAS: Marine Species of the British Isles and Adjacent Seas, more
Marine Species Traits, more
MilliBase, more
MolluscaBase, more
New Zealand Register of Marine Species (volume I), more
NARMS: North Atlantic Register for Marine Species, more
NSBP: North Sea Benthos Project, more
NSBS: North Sea Benthos Survey, more
Phoronida World Database, more
PycnoBase: World Pycnogonida Database, more
RAS: Register of Antarctic Species, more
TISBE: Taxonomic Information System for the Belgian coastal area, more
The Mangrove Reference Database and Herbarium, more
RAMS: The Register of Antarctic Marine Species, more
URMO: UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms, more
WAD: World Amphipoda Database, more
World Ascothoracida Database, more
WAD: World Asteroidea Database, more
WCD: World Cetacea Database, more
World Ciliophora Database, more
World Cumacea Database, more
World Database of Euphausiacea, more
World Database of Littoral Myriapoda, more
Nemys: World Database of Nematodes, more
WED: World Echinoidea Database, more
World Foraminifera Database, more
World Gastrotricha Database, more
World Hydrozoa Database, more
World Kinorhyncha Database, more
World List of Acoelomorpha, more
World List of Actiniaria, more
World List of Antipatharia, more
World List of Appendicularia, more
World List of Barchiopoda, more
World List of Bochusacea, more
World List of Brachypoda, more
World list of Cephalochordata, more
World List of Ceriantharia, more
World List of Cestoda, more
World List of Chaetognatha, more
World List of Corallimorpharia, more
World List of Crinoidea, more
World List of Cubozoa, more
World List of Echiura, more
World List of Gnathostomulida, more
World List of Holothuroidea, more
World List of Leptostraca, more
World List of Lophogastrida, Stygiomysida and Mysida, more
World List of Loricifera, more
World List of marine Acanthocephala, more
World List of marine Brachyura, more
World List of Marine Oligochaeta, more
World List of Marine, Freshwater and Terrestrial Isopod Crustaceans, more
World List of Merostomata, more
World List of Monogenea, more
World List of Mystacocarida, more
World List of Myxozoa, more
World List of Octocorallia, more
World List of Orthonectida, more
World List of Polycystina (Radiolaria), more
World List of Priapulida, more
World list of Rhizocephala, more
World List of Rhombozoa, more
World List of Scleractinia, more
World List of Scyphozoa, more
World List of Staurozoa, more
World List of Tanaidacea, more
World List of Tantulocarida, more
World list of Tardigrada, more
World List of Thaliacea, more
World List of Thermosbaenacea, more
World List of Trematoda, more
World list of turbellarian worms: Acoelomorpha, Catenulida, Rhabditophora, more
World List of Xenoturbellida, more
World List of Zoantharia, more
World Nemertea Database, more
World of Copepods, more
World Ophiuroidea Database, more
World Ostracoda Database, more
World Placozoa Database, more
World Polychaeta Database, more
WPD: World Porifera Database, more
WoRDSS: World Register of Deep-Sea Species, more
WRiMS: World Register of Introduced Marine Species, more
WoRCS: World Register of marine Cave Species, more
World Remipedia Database, more
World Sipuncula Database, more
World Strepsiptera Database, more
WoRMS checklist of Irish marine species, more
WoRMS checklist of marine species from Greece, more
WoRMS checklist of marine species from the Iberian Peninsula, more
WoRMS checklist of marine species in Israel, more
WoRMS checklist of marine species occurring in Polish marine waters, more
WoRMS checklist of Swedish marine species, more
WoRMS checklist of the terrestrial and marine biota from the Azores, more
Source datasets:
Algaebase, more
FADA: Freshwater Animal Diversity Assessment
Index Fungorum, more
Phylum Ctenophora: list of all valid species names, more
The Reptile Database, more
World List of Bryozoa, more
Previous version:
VLIZ's Marine Species Register

Based on this dataset
Horton, T.; Kroh, A.; Vandepitte, L. (2022). WoRMS needs YOU! A reply to Collareta et al. 2020. Integrative Biology 17(2): 326-327., more
Costello, M.J. et al. (2021). Introducing the World Register of Introduced Marine Species (WRiMS). Manag. Biol. Inv. 12(4): 792-811., more
Hayward, B.W. et al. (2020). Foraminifera in the World Register of Marine Species (Worms) taxonomic database. J. Foramin. Res. 50(3): 291-300., more
Vandepitte, L. et al. (2018). A decade of the World Register of Marine Species – General insights and experiences from the Data Management Team: Where are we, what have we learned and how can we continue? PLoS One 13(4): e0194599., more
Horton, T. et al. (2017). Improving nomenclatural consistency: a decade of experience in the World Register of Marine Species. Eur. J. Taxon. 389: 1-24., more
Martínez, A. et al. (2017). World Register of Marine Cave Species: a tool for investigating meiofaunal diversity in marine and anchialine subterranean systems. World Register of Marine Cave Species (WoRCS): [s.l.]. 1 poster pp., more
Vandepitte, L. et al. (2015). How Aphia - the platform behind several online and taxonomically oriented databases - can serve both the taxonomic community and the field of biodiversity informatics. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 3(4): 1448-1473., more
Appeltans, W. et al. (2012). The magnitude of global marine species diversity. Curr. Biol. 22(23): 2189-2202., more
Describing this dataset
Costello, M.J. 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): 20 pp., more

Dataset status: In Progress
Data type: Data
Data origin: Data collection
Metadatarecord created: 2007-08-28
Information last updated: 2024-01-11
All data in the Integrated Marine Information System (IMIS) is subject to the VLIZ privacy policy