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The CHRONOS Online Taxonomic Dictionary Initiative for Planktonic Foraminifera

Brian T. Huber1, R. Mark Leckie2, and Cinzia Cervato3
1 Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
2 University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
3 Iowa State University - CHRONOS, Ames, IA

The primary goal of the CHRONOS taxonomic dictionary initiative is to provide online access to essential taxonomic information that will help users make informed decisions on taxonomic synonymy and validity. Online taxonomic dictionaries (OTDs) that are set up as relational databases provide the added benefit of being searchable using a combination of queries. The Mesozoic Planktonic Foraminifer Working Group (MPFWG) has built the first relational taxonomic database to be hosted by CHRONOS. This database was developed initially using standard PC database software, and it consists of over 340 senior synonym species records that include original and emended species descriptions, morphologic descriptor fields, biostratigraphic range information, original and new images of all holotypes, and SEM images that illustrate the morphologic variability of the species concept. Once the database was migrated to the internet it was available for editorial revision by all members of the MPFWG. The database continues to grow with the addition of Paleogene and Neogene species and oversight by the Paleogene and Neogene Planktonic Foraminifer Working Groups.

Inclusion of a “public comment” field in each species record provides an opportunity for the research community to express opinions on validity, synonymy, images or descriptor fields. These comments will be viewable to all users of the database. Following periodic review of the comments the overseeing taxonomic working groups will make decisions on any revisions or additions to the database that that are deemed necessary. Cases where there is disagreement on species concepts or species validity will be readily apparent from the records of community input. Thus, unlike the large, monographic works that have been the primary taxonomic resources in the past, the planktonic foraminifer OTD will be dynamic, interactive, and continually updated using on the combined expertise of taxonomic working group contributors and taxonomic specialists from throughout the international research community.