Biodiversity Data Journal : General research article
Fauna Europaea – all European animal species on the web
Corresponding author: Yde de Jong (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Academic editor: Vincent Smith
Received: 10 Sep 2014 | Accepted: 17 Sep 2014 | Published: 17 Sep 2014
© 2014 Yde de Jong, Melina Verbeek, Verner Michelsen, Per de Place Bjørn, Wouter Los, Fedor Steeman, Nicolas Bailly, Claire Basire, Przemek Chylarecki, Eduard Stloukal, Gregor Hagedorn, Florian Tobias Wetzel, Falko Glöckler, Alexander Kroupa, Günther Korb, Anke Hoffmann, Christoph Häuser, Andreas Kohlbecker, Andreas Müller, Anton Güntsch, Pavel Stoev, Lyubomir Penev.
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Citation: de Jong Y, Verbeek M, Michelsen V, Bjørn P, Los W, Steeman F, Bailly N, Basire C, Chylarecki P, Stloukal E, Hagedorn G, Wetzel F, Glöckler F, Kroupa A, Korb G, Hoffmann A, Häuser C, Kohlbecker A, Müller A, Güntsch A, Stoev P, Penev L (2014) Fauna Europaea – all European animal species on the web. Biodiversity Data Journal 2: e4034. doi: 10.3897/BDJ.2.e4034
Fauna Europaea is Europe's main zoological taxonomic index, making the scientific names and distributions of all living, currently known, multicellular, European land and freshwater animals species integrally available in one authoritative database. Fauna Europaea covers about 260,000 taxon names, including 145,000 accepted (sub)species, assembled by a large network of (>400) leading specialists, using advanced electronic tools for data collations with data quality assured through sophisticated validation routines. Fauna Europaea started in 2000 as an EC funded FP5 project and provides a unique taxonomic reference for many user-groups such as scientists, governments, industries, nature conservation communities and educational programs. Fauna Europaea was formally accepted as an INSPIRE standard for Europe, as part of the European Taxonomic Backbone established in PESI.
Fauna Europaea provides a public web portal at faunaeur.org with links to other key biodiversity services, is installed as a taxonomic backbone in wide range of biodiversity services and actively contributes to biodiversity informatics innovations in various initiatives and EC programs.
Biodiversity Informatics, Animals, nomenclature, taxonomy, Fauna Europaea, Taxonomic indexing, Taxonomic standard, INSPIRE, Taxonomic reference, Taxonomic checklist.
Fauna Europaea kicked-off as a European Commission (EC) funded project, starting March 2000. It provides a web-based information infrastructure with an index of scientific names (including important synonyms) of all living European land and freshwater animals, their geographical distribution at country level (up to the Ural mountains, excluding The Caucasus region), and some additional, optional information.
The European Commission has published the Community Biodiversity Strategy to provide a framework for the development of Community policies and instruments in order to comply with the Convention on Biological Diversity. With regard to biodiversity in Europe, both science and policies depend on a knowledge of its components. The assessment of biodiversity, monitoring of changes, sustainable exploitation of biodiversity, and much legislative work depend upon a validated overview of taxonomic biodiversity. The Strategy recognises the incomplete state of knowledge at all levels concerning biodiversity, which is a constraint on the successful implementation of the Convention.
Fauna Europaea contributes to the European Community Biodiversity Strategy by supporting one of the main themes of the Strategy: to identify and catalogue the components of European biodiversity into a single database to serve as a basic tool for science and conservation policies. Prior to Fauna Europaea such a taxonomic index did not exist. Partial overviews were scattered around Europe in different scientific institutes, while only some countries were working on national information systems. Fauna Europaea integrates all efforts to establish a taxonomic standard for Europe on terrestrial and freshwater animal taxonomy, meaning Fauna Europaea includes a widely shared scientific consensus, contains highly scrutinised data (in terms of correctness of spelling, etc.) and is commonly used as a reference file in zoo-taxonomy.
Fauna Europaea started in 2000 as an European Commission (EC) Fifth Framework (FP5) four-years project, delivering its first release in September 2004. Project coordination and management were in hands of the University of Amsterdam (then: Zoological Museum Amsterdam), two other principal partners included the Zoological Museum, Natural History Museum of Denmark (then: Zoological Museum of Copenhagen) and the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris.
During the initial four years, the Fauna Europaea project successfully accomplished the extensive and innovative work-plan (
After fifteen years of steady operation, the hosting of Fauna Europaea was migrated to the Museum für Naturkunde (MfN) in Berlin who play a key-role in on-going biodiversity networking programs. This includes the development of a new generation of virtual tools and workbenches and supporting data interoperability and biodiversity science as a community effort.
In order to improve the dissemination of Fauna Europaea and acknowledge the Fauna Europaea contributors, this Special Issue has been compiled using novel e-Publishing tools to prepare data-papers of all major Fauna Europaea taxonomic groups. This article provides the general background of the Fauna Europaea project to date and described the release of the initial series of data-papers.
To ensure the collation of high quality data a network of specialists, including Group Coordinators coordinating the efforts in particular taxonomic groups, are contracted. Advanced on-line and off-line tools for data import and data management were developed. Sophisticated procedures for data verification were applied, including a review procedure on the inclusiveness and quality of the data sets. Further validation was taken care by a network of national Focal Points and other thematic partners, fully supported by the virtual infrastructure. The sections below will highlight some aspects of the established Fauna Europaea social and technical infrastructures.
The Fauna Europaea project provided 'Guidelines for Group Coordinators and Taxonomic Specialists' (
Taxonomic scope includes issues like, (1) the definition of taxonomic and biological criteria to assure species in Fauna Europaea only includes natural, stable populations (not artefacts or incidental and unnatural occurrences), (2) the taxonomic hierarchy, i.e. the building of a classification scheme and (3) nomenclature, i.e. the structuring of detailed information about accepted and synonymous genus- and species-group names.
A general synopsis on how to deal with aspects of taxonomy and nomenclature in the Fauna Europaea project is available as part of the mentioned 'Guidelines'. An excerpt is given below.
The taxonomic scope has proved to be by far the most controversial part of this project. What satisfy the entering of a species name into Fauna Europaea database? Obviously, an “accepted species” should be living, multi-cellular, non-marine animal species with a documented occurrence in Europe. However, there is more to it. An “accepted species” in a Fauna Europaea context should also be scientifically named and described according to the regulations of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Further, if there exist two or more synonymous names for the same species, it is the oldest valid name that should be used. Even by these additional criteria it is unavoidable that specialists have to face difficult decisions, which are bat est, made on a mixture of common sense and tradition. The following are species categories that should normally be excluded, but potentially contain species that need to be included:
Even more problematic is the nomina dubia category, that is names of “phantom species” that cannot be safely associated with any living species. Such names occur most frequently in species-rich, poorly investigated groups like parasitic wasps and spiders. Nomina dubia tend to blur the picture of known species diversity in a given geographical area. This is why the Fauna Europaea project has made substantial efforts to encourage specialists not to include any such “phantom species”. Unfortunately, the specialists often feel disinclined to categorize a nominal species as a nomen dubium, even if the name has remained obscure for many decades. One major reason could be that the FaEu database cannot presently accommodate this “third” category of names that neither belongs to the accepted names or synonymous names categories. One aspect of the future updating of the Fauna Europaea database will be the removal of any “surviving” nomina dubia from the lists of accepted species.
The higher taxonomic hierarchy ranging from phylum to family for the European fauna was the first major accomplishment of Fauna Europaea project. The hierarchy includes the universally accepted Linnean hierarchy categories:
Kingdom – Subkingdom – Phylum – Subphylum – Infraphylum – Class – Subclass – Superorder – Order – Suborder – Infraorder – Superfamily – Family – Subfamily – Tribe – Subtribe – Genus – Subgenus – Species – Subspecies
All species covered by Fauna Europaea belong to Kingdom Animalia.
It is important to underline that the Fauna Europaea hierarchy does not purport to be the phylogenetically “most correct” one. There is considerable disagreement between taxonomists about what is the best hierarchy, and anything like a consensus is not within view. For purely managerial purposes, however, Fauna Europaea needed to settle on one common hierarchy.
Some categories (e.g. suborder, subgenus and subspecies) are not applicable to all taxa. This may be because a category may not be generally applied in the current taxonomy of the group, or because the group coordinator has chosen not to provide this information (see below under the format of names).
The higher hierarchy (categories above superfamily) used for the project are shown in the Fauna Europaea Guidelines document. The full hierarchy can be browsed on the Fauna Europaea, the original version can be downloaded from the website, the latest version can be found here:
The format of names
Group coordinators and taxonomic specialists had to deliver the names according to very specific standards. The names provided by FaEu are scientific names (also known as “Latin names” although they are of Greek origin in very many cases). Many European animal species also have names in national languages, but these are not yet part of the FaEu service.
The scientific name of an animal species basically consists of two parts:
(1) Genus group names (Generic name)
For each generic name, the following information was required:
For a subgeneric name (located between the generic and the specific name), information was in addition required about the containing genus.
(2) Species group names (Specific name)
For each specific name, the following information was required
For a subspecific name (appended after the specific name), information was in addition required about the containing species.
Synonymy arises when different names refer to the same taxon and is a very important issue in biosystematics. One and the same taxon (genus or species) may have been described under different names by different authors (or by the same author at different times), or a name may have been wrongly applied to a taxon due to misidentification (actually a misapplied usage of a name). In many cases, different names have traditionally been used in different European countries for the same species. In other cases, some authorities regard two taxa as different species, whereas some regard them as subspecies of the same species (so conflicting taxonomic concepts). For practising taxonomists, synonymy is a major issue resulting from subjective assertions made by authors. For Fauna Europaea however, the provision of synonymies as such is not a main goal. However, Fauna Europaea groups coordinators and taxonomic specialists were asked to provide synonyms, at least such synonyms which would be likely to cause confusion.
The relevance of including synonymy is not similar between all groups. Synonymy is much more important information in less well-understood groups than in the ones where the species are non-controversial. In Fauna Europaea group coordinators and taxonomic specialists have provided synonyms to very different degrees of completeness, ranging from no synonyms at all (Examples: Aves, Reptilia, Amphibia) to virtually complete inventories of synonyms (Examples: Hemiptera: Cicadomorpha & Fulgoromorpha).
Synonyms are of two principally different kinds:
Synonyms of the latter category are marked in the FaEu database with “auct.”, instead of “Author, Year” information. “auct.” is short for “auctorum”, meaning “of authors” in Latin.
In order to handle synonymy FaEu chose to deal with generic (including subgeneric) names and specific (including subspecific) names separately.
Spelling of species names in Lepidoptera
It has become practice among Lepidopterologists to use the original spellings of the species names and not to follow Article 31.2 and 34.2 of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (
Although generally the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature doesn't except species descriptions before 1758 as 'valid names' and the publication date for both the Systema Naturae (10th edition) and Clerck's 'Svenska Spindlar' (
During the project phase of Fauna Europaea, the Zoological Museum of Copenhagen collated the individual data sets for Fauna Europaea, which were sent to the Zoological Museum Amsterdam for merging into the integrated database. Member institutes of the project are involved by providing taxonomic expertise and information and expert networks taking care about data collation. A selected small network of (67) group coordinators keeps contact with the large number of around 500 experts throughout Europe to capture data files on parts of the various taxonomic groups. Every taxonomic group is covered by at least one group coordinator. Group coordinators are responsible for the supervision and integrated input of both taxonomic and distributional data. The formal responsibility of collating and delivering the data of relevant families has resided with the Taxonomic Specialists.
After the project formal lifetime (2004–2014) the Zoological Museum Amsterdam took over all expert networking and data management tasks.
As a unique feature, Fauna Europaea funds were set aside for paying/compensating for the work of taxonomic specialists and group coordinators. Five euro per accepted species record was offered, although in some cases, where full data on a species could not be provided (typically when only taxonomic information, but no faunistic information, was provided), only partial payment was given. Group coordinators made their own arrangements with “their” taxonomic specialists about how the money was to be distributed between the two levels of collaborators.
Following the Fauna Europaea contract, species and subspecies should be registered at least at the level of political countries, meaning political countries. The Fauna Europaea geographical system follows basically the ISO 3166 and TDWG 2.0 country code standards with minor modifications (see
The geographic boundaries includes: East: Ural (E 60°), West: Atlantic Ocean (Mid-Atlantic Ridge) (W 30°), South: Mediterranean (N 35°), North: Arctic Islands (N 82°).
For details see the FaEu Guidelines chapter 3: Geographic information (
Fauna Europaea data are unique in a sense that they are fully expert based, meaning that the database is build from scratch by leading experts, critically reviewing and evaluating all available information (collections, observations, research, etc.), not by simply merging data from available resources like faunas, monographs, checklists or collection data. For distributional details local checklists are only used selectively (when scrutinised). Furthermore, all Fauna Europaea data sets are intensively reviewed and scrutinised. Five basic procedures to check and improve the quality of the data have been effected:
(1) During the project phase of Fauna Europaea, the National Museum of Natural History in Paris was in charge for validating the delivered data sets by means of cross-checking and reviewing with existing national, regional and local resources (checklists and literature), following the criteria on data standards, data semantics, data accuracy, data reliability, and inclusiveness of data as developed for Fauna Europaea. For this purpose a semi-automatic review routine was installed reporting inconsistencies between different features of the data set (Hierarchy, Taxonomy, Faunistic and Reference) and external resources. The outcomes were discussed with the Fauna Europaea editors.
(2) In addition, for both off-line and on-line data entry systems checks on the technical and logical correctness for all data entered by the taxonomic editors have been implemented as ‘Taxonomic Integrity Rules’. This validation tool proved to be of huge value for both the experts and project management, and significantly contributed to the preparation of a remarkably clean and consistent data set. The original set of ‘Taxonomic Integrity Rules’ was extended in follow-up projects like EDIT and PESI.
(3) In order to have a better estimate of the present distribution of terrestrial species in Europe, to spread the Fauna Europaea information and share taxonomic knowledge with local specialists, regional validation workshops have been held in areas relevant for their importance in terms of species richness or endemicity. As a result of this collaboration a network of associated specialists, representing experts from different regions, was established, taking care of the long-term reviewing of the Fauna Europaea data, providing feedback to the editors.
(4) In parallel, a program was initiated on validating Fauna Europaea with help of National Focal Points (
(5) Finally, feedback was provided by users via the Fauna Europaea web form, which are forwarded to the relevant experts.
Since the initial project set-up, Fauna Europaea contributed significantly to programs and initiatives analysing gaps in knowledge, data and expertise, to provide relevant recommendations for the European Commission for implementation in policy and research, including ENBI, EDIT, SMEBD, EPBRS and – most recently – EU BON.
In Fauna Europaea all data editing is done on a central system by the experts themselves. By evaluating team structure and life-cycle procedures (data-entry, validation, updating, etc.), clear definitions of roles of users and user-groups, according to the taxonomic framework were established, including ownership, and read and write privileges, and their status changes during the project data-flow (
To facilitate data transfer and data import within the Fauna Europaea database on-line and off-line data-entry routines have been build (
(1) An on-line Web interface data-entry tool (step-by-step through web-interfaces).
(2) An off-line data import tool by use of a pre-defined spreadsheet file; including validation checks, and inventive data import and export routines.
For details on the data-entry tool functional interfaces, please consider the respective manuals.
Based on the functional and technical requirements a database model has been developed (
The final Fauna Europaea server-infrastructure included an Oracle RDBMS transaction-server interconnected to a set of tools for data entry and data transfer, establishing an advanced virtual environment for data import and management, which well performed for more then 10 years and an Oracle RDBMS production-server linked to the Fauna Europaea web portal.
In 2009 the Fauna Europaea servers moved to a Virtual Machine. In 2013 the Fauna Europaea web portal hosting was taken over by the Museum für Naturkunde (MfN) in Berlin. The migration of the Fauna Europaea data management environment towards the EDIT Platform for Cybertaxonomy is currently in progress, which also includes a new web-portal.
In the initial part of the Fauna Europaea project it was concluded that a stronger involvement of institutes and experts, to support ‘regional/national validation’ and to harmonise on-going activities, was desirable. Therefore a network of national partner institutes was established, acting as 'Focal Points' for regional or national liaison and supporting the taxonomic framework. In most cases these institutes maintain or host national checklists and provide access to information about experts and literature resources in a country (
Fauna Europaea initial Focal Points network in NAS extension.
See also: http://www.faunaeur.org/focal_point.php.
The importance on developing contacts with national partner institutes was particularly relevant for Eastern Europe, because in the initial phase the institutional outreach of Fauna Europaea was rather oriented on Western Europe. In the fall of 2001, a call from the European Commission was published, which asked for proposals to extend themselves to the so-called NAS countries (Newly Associated States). A Fauna Europaea proposal for such an extension was approved by the EC early 2002. As a results an extended network of Focal Points was established and a detailed work program launched on the sharing of meta-data on taxonomic resources and the validation of Fauna Europaea by cross-checking with help of local checklists and expertise.
Later, as part of the pan-European Species-directory Infrastructure (PESI) project, the Fauna Europaea Focal Points have been merged with the networks of the European Register of Marine Species (ERMS), Euro+Med PlantBase (E+M) and Index Fungorum (IF) (see above).
An important aspect of the Fauna Europaea expert agreement is that experts keep the ownership on their data delivered, meaning that the rights of Fauna Europaea to disseminate the data are non-exclusive. This agreement was formalised by signing contracts
In addition, it was decided to search for a relevant mechanism to keep the involvement and secure the joint intellectual property rights of all contributors, which resulted in the joint membership of the "Society for the Management of Electronic Biodiversity Data" (SMEBD). SMEBD is a society, which on behalf of its members, attempts to provide a legal basis for the protection of their data as well as promotes the interest of experts on issues related to data governance and dissemination.
For (the substantial number of) Fauna Europaea expert employed at European taxonomic institutes, support for their activities was received from the "Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities" (CETAF), not only underlining the relevance of a European taxonomic standard, but also understanding Fauna Europaea as an important collaborative knowledge network on taxonomic expertise.
Fauna Europaea results in a unique overview of the state of art with respect to our understanding of the taxonomy and occurrence of European species and serves as a clearing house to identify taxonomic knowledge and expertise, including potential gaps. As a taxonomic data standard resource, Fauna Europaea provides a gateway serving the integration and sharing of European biodiversity data, supporting major biodiversity informatics initiatives, such as LifeWatch, EU BON, and GBIF, as well as serving many other stakeholders, such as national biodiversity portals, nature conservation agencies and biodiversity managers.
The first release of the Fauna Europaea index was formally presented at the Fauna Europaea final meeting at the 27th of September 2004 in Paris. In the following years new releases have been published at around a yearly sequence. Since the initial release, updates includes individual data sets (smaller or larger taxonomic sectors). The most recent release (version 2.6.2) was launched at 29 August 2013. An overview of Fauna Europaea main releases can be found here: http://www.faunaeur.org/about_fauna_versions.php.
Currently Fauna Europaea covers 221,701 accepted taxon names, including 146,288 accepted species and subspecies (
Fauna Europaea general statistics, showing taxon numbers for different taxonomic levels.
Source data can be found here
|Taxa (level)||Accepted (No.)||Synonyms (No.)|
|All taxon names||221 701||52 882|
|Higher taxon names||5 838||233|
|(Sub)genus names||28 589||6 950|
|Species names||132 100||40 354|
|Subspecies names||14 188||5 564|
Fauna Europaea taxonomic groups, listing the responsible Group Coordinators, species numbers, family numbers and expert numbers for version 2.6.2. An indication of known gaps is given according to the gap analysis done after the Fauna Europaea first release (version 1.3).
Source data can be found here
|Taxonomic group||Group Coordinator version 1||Group Coordinator version 2||No. of species||No. of families||No. of experts||Known gaps|
|Acari: Acariformes||Wojciech Magowski||Wojciech Magowski||6642||299||14||505 species|
|Acari: Ixodida||Jean-Louis Camicas||Jean-Louis Camicas||77||3||22|
|Acari: Mesostigmata||Lars Lundqvist||Lars Lundqvist||1479||51||1|
|Amblypygi & Uropygi||Henrik Enghoff||Henrik Enghoff||2||2||1|
|Amphibians & Reptiles||Alain Dubois||Alain Dubois||230||30||6|
|Annelida: Hirudinea||Alessandro Minelli||Alessandro Minelli||98||9||2|
|Annelida: Oligochaeta (limnic)||Tarmo Timm||Tarmo Timm||268||8||1|
|Annelida: Oligochaeta (terrestrial)||Emilia Rota||Emilia Rota||735||18||1|
|Apterygote Insecta||Luis F. Mendes||Luis F. Mendes||273||4||2|
|Araneae||Peter van Helsdingen||Peter van Helsdingen||4517||63||6|
|Aves||Cees Roselaar||Cees Roselaar||809||87||1|
|Bryozoa (Ectoprocta)||Jos & Gaby Massard-Geimer||Emmy Woss||25||7||1|
|Cnidaria: Hydroida||Wim Vervoort||Wim Vervoort||54||27||1|
|Coleoptera 1||Miguel A. Alonso-Zarazaga||Miguel A. Alonso-Zarazaga||15552||57||65||500 species|
|Coleoptera 2||Paolo Audisio||Paolo Audisio||12425||80||45|
|Collembola||Louis Deharveng||Louis Deharveng||1941||23||10|
|Crustacea||Geoffrey Boxshall||Geoffrey Boxshall||3493||127||9|
|Diplura||Jean-Marc Thibaud||Jean-Marc Thibaud||278||5||4|
|Diptera: Brachycera||Thomas Pape||Thomas Pape & Paul Beuk||11751||96||55|
|Diptera: Nematocera||Herman de Jong||Paul Beuk & Thomas Pape||7526||30||14||700 species|
|Entoprocta||Claus Nielsen||Claus Nielsen||1||1||1|
|Ephemeroptera||Carlo Belfiore & Alain Thomas||Carlo Belfiore & Alain Thomas||339||18||14|
|Gastrotricha||Maria Balsamo||Maria Balsamo||214||5||5|
|Helminths (Animal parasitics)||David Gibson||David Gibson||3986||214||19|
|Hemiptera: Aphidoidea||Juan M. Nieto Nafría||Juan M. Nieto Nafría||1415||3||7|
|Hemiptera: Cicadomorpha etc.||Hannelore Hoch||Hannelore Hoch||2053||23||3|
|Hemiptera: Coccoidea etc.||Daniel Burckhardt||Daniel Burckhardt||1289||20||1|
|Hemiptera: Heteroptera||Berend Aukema||Berend Aukema||2709||48||1|
|Hymenoptera: Apocrita (excl. Ichneumonoidea)||John Noyes||Mircea-Dan Mitroiu||13211||52||19|
|Hymenoptera: Symphyta + Ichneumonoidea||Kees van Achterberg||Kees van Achterberg||10717||14||7|
|Lepidoptera: Moths + Butterflies||Ole Karsholt & Erik van Nieukerken & Willy De Prins||Ole Karsholt & Erik van Nieukerken||9865||86||60|
|Mammalia||Wieslaw Bogdanowicz||Wieslaw Bogdanowicz||254||31||2|
|Mecoptera||Rainer Willmann||Rainer Willmann||23||3||1|
|Mollusca: Bivalvia||Rafael Araujo||Rafael Araujo||55||5||1|
|Mollusca: Gastropoda||Ruud A. Bank||Ruud A. Bank||3337||70||1|
|Myriapoda||Henrik Enghoff||Henrik Enghoff||2225||73||9|
|Nematoda||Tom Bongers||Vlada Peneva||2618||96||36|
|Nematomorpha||Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa||Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa||68||2||1|
|Nemertea||Ray Gibson||Ray Gibson||12||3||1|
|Neuropteroid orders||Horst & Ulrike Aspöck||Horst & Ulrike Aspöck & Agostine Letardi||397||15||3|
|Odonata||Jan van Tol||Jan van Tol||131||11||8|
|Opiliones||Jochen Martens||Jochen Martens||330||11||1|
|Orthopteroid orders||Klaus-Gerhard Heller||Klaus-Gerhard Heller||1371||35||4|
|Palpigradi, Pseudoscorpiones & Solifugae||Mark S. Harvey||Mark S. Harvey||831||19||1|
|Phthiraptera||Eberhard Mey||Eberhard Mey||719||19||1|
|Pisces||Nicolas Bailly||Jorg Freyhof||507||23||3||350 species|
|Platyhelminthes: Turbellaria||Anno Faubel||Carolina Noreña Janssen||738||34||2|
|Plecoptera||Romolo Fochetti||Romolo Fochetti||426||7||2|
|Porifera: Spongillidae||Renata Manconi||Ole Tendal||18||3||1|
|Protura||Andrzej Szeptycki||Julia Shrubovych||177||4||1|
|Psocoptera||Verner Michelsen||Verner Michelsen||234||25||3|
|Rotifera||Hendrik Segers||Hendrik Segers||1288||30||7|
|Scorpiones||Pierangelo Crucitti||Pierangelo Crucitti||23||4||2|
|Siphonaptera||Maria Soledad Gomez Lopez||Maria Soledad Gomez Lopez||266||7||1|
|Strepsiptera||Hans Pohl||Hans Pohl||30||7||1|
|Tardigrada||Sandra J. McInnes||Sandra J. McInnes||428||14||5|
|Thysanoptera||Richard zur Strassen||Bert Vierbergent||571||6||2|
|Trichoptera||Peter Barnard||Hans Malicky||1049||24||1|
The Fauna Europaea expert network includes 67 Group Coordinators and up to 500 specialists. Since 2004, several expert replacements took place, especially substituting retired or deceased specialists (see Table 2 on Group Coordinator changes). In general the expert network remained rather stable for the last 15 years, although the actual participation and policy to contribute to new updates varied significantly within and between the different taxonomic groups and data sectors. Some group coordinators remain very active and delivered new data sets for each release, others were more passive, but allowed taxonomic specialists to contribute individually, and for some groups neither the group coordinators were active nor the taxonomic specialists could contribute. During the last updating period around one third of the Fauna Europaea experts could be considered as 'active'.
The geographic details of the Fauna Europaea data have been subject of various analyses within Europe (e.g.
Fauna Europaea country/region statistics.
Source data can be found at
Statistics of newly described species per period in Molluscs (source: Ruud Bank) and Braconidae (source Cees van Achterberg).
Some aspects of platform interoperability as established in the ViBRANT project.
Fauna Europaea data are firstly disseminated via a public web site at faunaeur.org. Fauna Europaea appears a popular site on taxonomic information considering the high web-usage statistics, including 637,535 unique visitors for 2013 (
Fauna Europaea web-portal interface (faunaeur.org).
PESI target species lists search interface.
Position of PESI as Euro-Hub in the Catalogue of Life initial architecture, proceeding from the EuroCat project.
In addition, Fauna Europaea is included as the terrestrial-zoological component of the pan-European Species-directories Infrastructure (PESI), representing the taxonomic backbone for Europe (see
Fauna Europaea is frequently used as a taxonomic reference in scientific papers (e.g.
Around 2005, the relevance of applying unique and stable species identifiers, to secure long-term internal consistency and optimise external interoperability was recognised in the biodiversity informatics community (
Lately so-called Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) have been established for Fauna Europaea, which dereference to the taxon respective pages (for instance: http://www.faunaeur.org/t/337992). URI's improve stable and unambiguous cross-referencing among biodiversity services and are more easy to be used by stakeholders. This was recently also recommended as part of the Bouchout Declaration.
A practical guideline on cross-linking Fauna Europaea can be found here:
After the first release of Fauna Europaea in 2004, the completeness of the received taxonomic data was calculated to include 99.3% of the known European fauna (actual number of databased species 128,692; estimated number of described species 129,647). The faunistic coverage is less complete, but nevertheless including 90-95% of the total fauna. Recognised gaps for major groups are given in
The data-entry figures show a delay of around four years for entering newly described species into the Fauna Europaea database. Considering an average yearly increment of newly described animal species for Europe of around 670 species (figures from the Fauna Europaea gap analysis
The delay factor indicates that experts prefer to focus on adding older names (not yet included) or improving existing records (for instance refining distributional details), instead of including new species. This could be caused by the often unclear taxonomic 'robustness' of newly described species (new names are quickly synonymised) plus the yet unavailability of sufficient occurrence details (newly described species have a poor distributional record). It could also reflect the rather slow uptake of new taxonomic information, which could be improved when experts are served with instant information (e.g. via RSS feeds) on publications of relevant new species.
Gaps in taxonomic knowledge (species unknown to science) have been surveyed using indirect methods, with help of additional data from the European faunal inventories as recorded in the Biosis database (
Fauna Europaea contributed to various gap assessments in ensuing projects, like PESI (
Common names are the most important search terms for non-professional users to retrieve biodiversity information. By means of the extended network of national Focal Points (more then 50 Focal Points in around 40 countries), the PESI project was used to harvest additional information on European species (images, literature, conservation status, etc.). Thus the PESI portal became a major meta-data repository for local biodiversity information and resources, including a resource for non-scientific names of species with 183,622 common names in 105 languages, also accessible via the Fauna Europaea portal. This information is also shared with Europeana as part of the OpenUp! project.
As a large thematic network and centre of taxonomic excellence, Fauna Europaea contributed to different projects dealing with biodiversity topics, including the development of a virtual biodiversity research community, such as the European Network for Biodiversity Information (ENBI), the European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy (EDIT), the pan-European Species-directory Infrastructure (PESI), the Virtual Biodiversity Research and Access Network for Taxonomy (ViBRANT) and lastly in Building the European Biodiversity Observation Network (EU BON); Europe's contribution to GEO BON, where Fauna Europaea contributes its data to the taxonomic backbone. For managing the large knowledge networks, Fauna Europaea got instrumental support from overarching bodies, like the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF) and the Society for the Management of Electronic Biodiversity Data (SMEBD). Furthermore, Fauna Europaea contributes to initiatives like LifeWatch and BiodiversityKnowledge on establishing a European Community Clearing-House on biodiversity expertise, serving EC H2020 ambitions on creating an open and transparent, high-grade science-society interface for biodiversity science.
In the EuroCAT (Species2000 Europe) project Fauna Europaea contributed to the establishment of the so-called Euro-Hub of the Catalogue of Life (CoL), a commitment further continued in PESI (
The PESI project opened opportunities for Fauna Europaea experts to apply automated tools for validation themselves (e.g.
In the ViBRANT project the interoperability of several core taxonomic platforms has been enhanced, guaranteeing cross-platform compatibility and shared access to important publishing infrastructures and services (
At the global level Fauna Europaea contributes to the development of a next generation linked open data names architecture, also called the 'Global Names Architecture', supporting biodiversity research as a name-based science. The Fauna Europaea community especially focus on the zoological components, like the implementation of ZooBank (
To handle the (co-)ownership of experts over their data, all Fauna Europaea specialists became members of the Society for the Management of Electronic Biodiversity Data (SMEBD). In addition, a Fauna Europaea executive committee was installed (to deal with Fauna Europaea related agreements) and Fauna Europaea members (experts and management staff) were elected for SMEBD council functions at a regular base. The role and relevance of SMEBD as a professional society of authors of biodiversity databases, defending the interests of its members on issues like copyright and intellectual property rights, attempting to provide a legal basis for their protection and keeping a common agenda on the sustainability of taxonomic databases, is currently under evaluation (e.g.
Recently it was decided to further license the Fauna Europaea data under CC BY SA version 4.0. We realise that most (if not all) parts of Fauna Europaea are not truly copyrightable (see
The future governance of the Fauna Europaea infrastructures is integrated in major programs such as LifeWatch and EU BON (e.g. as 'PESI Plus'), and embedded in collaborative approaches on profiling biodiversity informatics in EC H2020, steered by initiatives like BIH2013 (
After fifteen years of delivering a steady service to the biodiversity community, Fauna Europaea is entering a next life stage, which will require a re-evaluation of the existing starting-points, including its role and functioning in the European structure of biodiversity services.
The self-limitation of Fauna Europaea on delivering the best data for native species having a stable population in Europe, using strict guidelines (streamlining the various traditions in zoological taxonomy) worked out very well. Fauna Europaea didn't aim to install a universal model for zoological databasing neither to be complete. We have realised that including all exotics, incidental observations, occasional visitors, wrong identifications or obsolete names would have resulted in an undesirable situation ("everything occurring everywhere"). Besides, the effort on scrutinising such data would not only exceed the manageable capacity of the involved experts, but would also deliver a disfunctional product as a name standard and reference file.
This situation was later on balanced by the validation networks and services developed in FaEu-NAS and PESI, which also showed that most national/regional lists are over-complete. A significant amount of supposed Fauna Europaea 'gaps' actually pertain from local synonyms, infrequent visitors, incorrect identifications, invalid names, alternative taxonomies or 'fussy data' (records uncritically taken-over from literature) often relevant to be maintained at a regional level (because locally 'in use'), but inappropriate for inclusion in Fauna Europaea.
The restricted scope of Fauna Europaea will be re-evaluated as part of the EU BON project. However, establishing a comprehensive European 'super-index' still seems to be a wrong approach. A names architecture allowing national focal points to map their individual lists to a regulated (central) authoritative index, including a checklist-bank (to map other lists and classifications), a shared name-bank (presumably the Global Names Index), advanced annotation routines (allowing a selective uptake), and a cross-reference to a nomenclatural standard (presumably ZooBank), seems to be a better concept (see also
Other extensions in the scope of Fauna Europaea, requested by the experts, would include a further detailing of the 'present' status for occurrences (for instance also dealing with 'Native', 'Rare', and 'Introduced') and customised taxon lists (other than alphabetically) in the classification. Further the regions should be adapted to the current political situation (e.g. the breakup of Yugoslavia) and source annotations should be insertable to distributional details.
For application in the digital domain, zoological nomenclature has different advantages over botany, including a straightforward treatment of species-group names (epithet and authorship) as 'natural' nomenclatural identifiers, easing name management and resolution, independent from its generic assignment. In addition, the issue of 'potential taxon concept' (linking specimen to taxonomic concepts) is much more prominent in botany compared to zoology and complications regarding authorship changes (and derivate spellings) when introducing a new taxonomic concept, as required in botany, don’t affect zoology. However, a disadvantage of this situation is a lack of formal accounting of (past) objective synonymies in zoology. This contrast the situation in botany where the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants regulates the proposal of new combinations and consequently ensures the maintenance of taxonomic history.
This feature also affects Fauna Europaea that for the search function past combinations can only be estimated as 'potential combinations' that taxonomic cross-referencing with other resources only can be really efficient at the nominal level and that in-between Fauna Europaea versions different species names sharing the same species-group name (species names which are functionally objective synonyms) have the same unique identifier.
Several solutions to this situation are intended. Firstly in the new data management environment bookkeeping of combinations is proposed, including the allocation of 'species-IDs' (in addition to the existing name-IDs). For the 'species-IDs' the PESI model on constructing a GUID could be followed (in PESI a LSID is a combination of the namespace and the Fauna Europaea Id for example: “urn:lsid:faunaeur.org:taxname:93540”). Secondly, as part of a global name infrastructure a collaborative solution could be found on organising zoological nomenclature in so-called 'nomenclators', a situation corresponding to botany.
It is rather demanding for specialists to continue improving data sets and for group coordinators to keep the networks together and functioning without budget or other incentives. Nevertheless, Fauna Europaea survived through the years on a low budget, and with a minimal staff, thanks to a very effective data management system, a wonderful community commitment (both from experts and institutes) and generous, in-kind support from hosting organisations.
To ensure that Fauna Europaea's contributing experts are fully acknowledged and to expand the citability of the Fauna Europaea data, it was decided to implement certain advancements in the virtual workbench development into the Fauna Europaea work routine. This was achieved during the EC-FP7 project ViBRANT, including the publication of 'data papers', meaning scholarly publications describing the respective data sectors of Fauna Europaea, using the publishing tools of the recently established Biodiversity Data Journal (
Publishing data papers in biodiversity was proposed recently as a mechanism to incentivize efforts towards discovery and publishing of biodiversity data resources (
‘Contributions on Fauna Europaea’ is the second series launched by Biodiversity Data Journal after the Checklist of British and Irish Hymenoptera (
In the future publishing data papers is foreseen as a standard practice after updating a Fauna Europaea data set. Apart from the value of producing scientific output and creditability for the Fauna Europaea experts, this will also allow for a more dynamic way of (additional) expert involvement, because all relevant contributions can be more easily acknowledged than what is currently the case, which will strengthen the ownership feeling (by producing 'legacy reports' for each version) and the sense of communality.
In addition, the data papers satisfy the need for the provision of more background information on Fauna Europaea data sets, including for instance the used resources and expertise and on the taxonomic decisions taken. In this context they are valuable as 'micro-publications', acting as a landing-place for small bits and pieces of information on European species. This mostly concerns unpublished new distributional records, which are often direct or indirect spin-offs from the working on Fauna Europaea.
Last but not least the Fauna Europaea data papers could also facilitate the publication of analyses based on the project, including small treatises (like master theses) or assessments carried-out by important stakeholders.
The Fauna Europaea project bureau offers special thanks to the Fauna Europaea Management, Steering and Advisory Committees, especially to Prof. Philippe Bouchet, Prof. Daniel Goujet, Prof. Henrik Enghoff, Prof. Wieslaw Bogdanowicz, Prof. Alessandro Minelli, Anastasios Legakis, Miguel Alonso-Zarazaga, Trudy Brannan and Alfonso Nava Sanchez, for their commitment and guidance during the project phase of Fauna Europaea.
We are grateful for the many in-kind contributions from involved taxonomic institutes to Fauna Europaea. Here, the successive CETAF chairs and the current director Ana Casino Rubio are thanked for their continuing help on profiling Fauna Europaea as a European Clearing House on taxonomic expertise.
Our thanks are extended to the coordinators of follow-up projects providing financial or other kinds of support, including Simon Tillier (EDIT), Frank Bisby (EuroCAT), Dave Roberts and Vince Smith (ViBRANT), Wouter Los (ENBI, LifeWatch), Yde de Jong (PESI), Alex Hardisty (BioVel), Walter Berendsohn (BioCASE, OpenUp!), and Christoph Häuser (EU BON).
We express our appreciation to the University of Amsterdam and SARA/Vancis for their willingness for keeping Fauna Europaea running during the last decade. In particular the commitment of Sandrine Ulenberg (former director of the Zoological Museum Amsterdam) and the generous support of Chantal de Vreede (manager Vancis) were of vital importance.
Our colleagues from GBIF (David Remsen, Markus Döring, Tim Robertsen), the Global Names team (Rich Pyle, Paddy Patterson, Nicola Nicolson, Paul Kirk, Dmitry Mozzherin), Species2000 (Yuri Roskov, Andrew Jones), ITIS (Tom Orell, Mike Ruggiero) and various TDWG interest groups members are thanked for the fruitful collaboration.
We dedicate this paper to the numerous Fauna Europaea group coordinators, specialists and other taxonomic associates who put their time and efforts on keeping this important project up to date. You are our heroes!
Fauna Europaea was funded by the European Commission under the Fifth Framework Programme and contributed to the Support for Research Infrastructures work programme with Thematic Priority Biodiversity (EVR1-1999-20001) for a period of four years (1 March 2000 - 1 March 2004), including a short 'NAS extension', allowing EU candidate accession countries to participate. Follow-up support was given by the EC-FP5 EuroCAT project (EVR1-CT-2002-20011), by the EC-FP6 ENBI project (EVK2-CT-2002-20020), by the EC-FP6 EDIT project (GCE 018340), by the EC-FP7 PESI project (RI-223806) and by the EC-FP7 ViBRANT project (RI-261532). Continuing management and hosting of the Fauna Europaea services was supported by the University of Amsterdam (Zoological Museum Amsterdam) and SARA/Vancis. Recently the hosting of Fauna Europaea is taken over by the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, supported by the EC-FP7 EU BON project (grant agreement №308454).
The 'Guidelines for Group Coordinators and Taxonomic Specialists' include the standards, protocols, scope, and limits that provide the instructions for all 400 specialists contributing to the project. A first version was established in year 1 of the project. These were published in the “Guidelines for Group Coordinators and Taxonomic Specialists” as a attachment to the first annual report and improved during the project life-time.
Figures of species and subspecies in Fauna Europaea only occuring in one area/country.