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In spring 2009, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ National Science Data Management Committee (DFO-NSDMC) created a national activity with the mandate to promote the use of taxonomic standards within the Science Branch of DFO and to develop and implement best-practice procedures for the quality control of biological names used by DFO.
The largest global standard for aquatic species names is the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS). The objective of WoRMS is to provide an authoritative and comprehensive list of names of marine organisms, including information on synonymy. The thematic regional node for Canada, the Canadian Register of Marine Species (CaRMS) encompasses the marine component of the master register in WoRMS. The taxonomic scope of CaRMS will be to cover species from the three realms of the ocean: the seafloor (meio-, macro- and megazoobenthos; micro- and macrophytobenthos), the water column (phytoplankton, zooplankton, nekton) and the sea-ice.
CaRMS contains detailed distribution records for taxa found in three oceans: the Atlantic, the Arctic and the Pacific. CaRMS grew from local registers of marine species, such as the Northwest Atlantic Register of Marine Species (NWARMS) and the Gulf of Maine Register of Marine Species (GoMRMS), compiled by the Atlantic Reference Centre of the Huntsman Marine Science Centre, St. Andrews, New Brunswick.
Two special features available on the CaRMS site are a series of regional checklists and a photogallery of taxa observed in Canadian waters.
The intent of CaRMS is not to duplicate WoRMS. Users are referred to the WoRMS site (www.marinespecies.org) if they wish to search for taxonomic and/or global distribution information on specific taxa. CaRMS was also not designed to track changes in taxonomy. Each record in the register contains a standard code that enables linkage to master databases of WoRMS (AphiaID and the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS TSN). Issues related to synonymy, validity and taxonomic hierarchy will be dealt with by these organizations. The WoRMS web site is hosted by the Flanders Marine Institute, Belgium (VLIZ).
VLIZ has provided CaRMS data management support and services through their connection with WoRMS. VLIZ hosts the CaRMS website and provides the tools on the CaRMS web page that enable the user:
- to create authoritative checklists of taxa for geographical areas of interest to Canadian research.
- to extract enriched metadata such as standard/master codes (the WoRMS AphiaID, the ITIS TSN), obtain valid/accepted synonym names and associated taxonomic hierarchy.
- to provide a list of authoritative literature associated with taxa distribution.
- to display the statistics related to the taxonomic coverage of the register.
- to access and contribute to a photo gallery for images of taxa included in our database collections.
The web page log-in feature is only accessible to CaRMS editors.