TaxaGloss - A Glossary and Translation Tool for Biodiversity Studies Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Correctly identifying organisms is key to most biological research, and is especially critical in areas of biodiversity and conservation. Yet it remains one of the greatest challenges when studying all but the few well-established model systems. The challenge is in part due to the fact that most species have yet to be described, vanishing taxonomic expertise and the relative inaccessibility of taxonomic information. Furthermore, identification keys and other taxonomic resources are based on complex, taxon-specific vocabularies used to describe important morphological characters. Using these resources is made difficult by the fact that taxonomic documentation of the world's biodiversity is an international endeavour, and keys and field guides are not always available in the practitioner's native language. NEW INFORMATION: To address this challenge, we have developed a publicly available on-line illustrated multilingual glossary and translation tool for technical taxonomic terms using the Symbiota Software Project biodiversity platform. Illustrations, photographs and translations have been sourced from the global community of taxonomists working with marine invertebrates and seaweeds. These can be used as single-language illustrated glossaries or to make customized translation tables. The glossary has been launched with terms and illustrations of seaweeds, tunicates, sponges, hydrozoans, sea anemones, and nemerteans, and already includes translations into seven languages for some groups. Additional translations and development of terms for more taxa are underway, but the ultimate utility of this tool depends on active participation of the international taxonomic community.

altmetric score

  • 10.8

author list (cited authors)

  • Collin, R., Fredericq, S., Freshwater, D. W., Gilbert, E., Madrid, M., Maslakova, S., ... Thacker, R. W.

citation count

  • 3

publication date

  • December 2016