The "Catalogue of Life" is the official catalogue of species: Taxonomists throughout the world ("Species 2000") joined forces with the US-Canada-Mexico agencies ("ITIS")


Species 2000

Species 2000 is an autonomous federation of taxonomic database custodians, involving taxonomists throughout the world. Our goal is to collate a uniform and validated index to the world's known species (plants, animals, fungi and microbes). Species 2000 is registered as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee (registered in England No. 3479405).

Species 2000 began as a joint programme between CODATA (International Council for Science: Committee on Data for Science and Technology), IUBS (International Union of Biological Sciences) and the IUMS (International Union of Microbiological Societies) in the early 1990's. (...) is recognised by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).




The White House Subcommittee on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics has identified systematics as a research priority that is fundamental to ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation. 

(...)The ITIS is the result of a partnership of federal agencies formed to satisfy their mutual needs for scientifically credible taxonomic information.

We are a partnership of U.S., Canadian, and Mexican agencies (ITIS-North America); other organizations; and taxonomic specialists.





The Catalogue of Life is the official catalogue of species


In June 2001 the Species 2000 and ITIS organisations, that had previously worked separately, decided to work together to create the Catalogue of Life, now estimated at 1.9 million species (Chapman, 2009). 



Access the monthly or annual edition from the page

and the respective buttons.

Catalogue of Life: 

Monthly edition





To view the taxonomic tree select it from "Browse" as follows (red rectangle):



Classification System used

What classification system do you use?


The management classification includes five basic ranks:

  1. Group (Kingdom)
  2. Phylum
  3. Class
  4. Order
  5. Family

For some groups the rank of Superfamily is included to improve management classification.



In the history of taxonomy, consensus has been established for the taxinomic ranks or taxa of Animalia, Plantae and Fungi. For the rest, mainly little guys or microbes, the term "Protista" ("First-beings") had been suggested.


We see in the taxonomic tree above the taxa 'Groups/Kingdoms' of Animalia, Plantae and Fungi and in addition we see Archaea, Bacteria, Chromista, Protozoa and Viruses. The last five ones, essentially microbes, constitute the official taxa corresponding to the previously suggested rank of Protista.



The Encyclopedia of Life : a Wikipedia-like collaborative effort


"Our knowledge of the many life-forms on Earth - of animals, plants, fungi, protists and bacteria - is scattered around the world in books, journals, databases, websites, specimen collections, and in the minds of people everywhere. Imagine what it would mean if this information could be gathered together and made available to everyone – anywhere – at a moment’s notice."

"This dream is becoming a reality through the Encyclopedia of Life. "