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Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS)

The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) database maintained by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). ITIS was selected as the taxonomic name server for Morphbank in 2004 because it represented the most complete comprehensive taxonomic name service available at the time. Also, the entire database could be downloaded locally making access to the data quick and efficient. ITIS is a consistent service. It has a high level of stability and a rigid review system. Since ITIS is maintained by the USDA, the probability that the service will be persistent for several years is high. Taxonomic names are entered into the system and panel of experts periodically review the names for quality assurance.

The Morphbank development team recognized early in the development of the system, the need for a Taxonomic Name Server that would supply the scientific names needed in determination of species. However, there were none available that contained all of the recognized names. ITIS was chosen because it
  1. contained the most complete set of names at the time,
  2. has a formal method for adding new names and
  3. because the system is supported by the USDA ensuring the longevity of the system.

Because the addition of new names to the ITIS system does take some time, the Morphbank team established a method to add names to Morphbank. This allows scientists use the taxonomic name of their choice to identify a specimen in Morphbank. Names added to Morphbank have 9-digit Morphbank taxonomic serial numbers (mtsn) beginning with 999 to differentiate them from ITIS tsns.

Currently, no taxonomic name updates are sent to ITIS and the ITIS taxon names in Morphbank are from the initial installation. There are plans to completely revise the workflow regarding taxonomy. Morphbank envisions a system for users to explicitly provide a link to a taxon name in an existing taxonomy (ITIS, uBio, USDA Plants, IPNI ...) to identify a given specimen. The taxon name and its relevant data may display with the specimen data and image uploaded to Morphbank. In essence, Morphbank intends to pull names from existing taxonomic name servers instead of uploading taxon names and taxonomic hierarchies.