Senckenberg Research Institute and Museum, Frankfurt

Botanical Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem


TDWG 2000: Digitising Biological Collections
Taxonomic Databases Working Group, 16th Annual Meeting
Senckenberg Museum, Frankfurt, Germany, November 10-12, 2000


Jacques Le Renard*

TAXIS, a taxonomic information system for managing large biological collections

* L.B.I.M.M., M.N.H.N., 55 rue de Buffon, F - 75005 Paris

[Poster presentation]

One of the most important requirement for retrieving specimens in large biological collections is the ability to deal with the multiple names which have been used to designate the same biological taxon.

TAXIS is a taxonomic tool, based upon a ad-hoc data model and specific procedures (for classification trees, and for Latin syntax in binominal names), which gives the currently valid name corresponding to any name. Conversely, TAXIS can internally handle lists of different names (synonyms, etc.) designating the same taxon, instead of working name by name.

The central concept in TAXIS is called "taxonomic reference". This entity corresponds to any use of a taxon name, published or not; a taxonomic reference can be used either as a name identifying a taxon or a specimen (in collections or in lists), or as a reference to a taxon (in classifications). It contains a nomenclatural reference (scientific name with its author), and a user reference ("author" of the use, with, if published, pagination, figuration, etc.).

TAXIS also uses "classifications", giving the hierarchical relationships between the taxa in supraspecific categories. Every taxon in a classification points to one taxonomic reference. Synonymy and homonymy are treated as pairs of taxonomic references, each with its own taxonomic or nomenclatural status respectively.

Several applications illustrate the potential of TAXIS for putting together, on a single Internet screen, all information concerning a given biological object: specimen data, pictures, taxonomic information, all this with easy navigation from taxon to taxon, from specimen to specimen, etc. The applications are:
CLEMAM (Check List of European MArine Mollusca), online since 1995 at:
Mollusca in the type collection of M.N.H.N. (Paris), at
Some paleontological collections in the M.N.H.N. (Geology Laboratory and the Paris Basin fossils collected by the present author), at: *


TDWG | Participants | Presentations | Senckenberg Museum | BGBM Biodiversity Informatics

This meeting was co-sponsored by the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) 

Page editor: W. Berendsohn, BGBM 2000.