Fri, Nov 15, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Online encyclopedia showcases wealth of Taiwan’s species

CREATURE CATALOGUE:The Internet database has entries on thousands of animals and plants found in the nation written by a range of wildlife experts

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

It now takes just one click to learn about the smallest owl in Taiwan or listen to the sounds made by endemic green tree frogs, thanks to a new online encyclopedic database that profiles almost 13,000 of the nation’s animal, plant and other species.

The Chinese-language Taiwan Encyclopedia of Life (TaiEOL) was officially unveiled on Wednesday, and features images, audio and video clips, descriptions and book references about Taiwanese wildlife. It can be accessed at eol.taibif.tw.

The Council of Agriculture said the idea of creating the online database came when E.O. Wilson, a famous US biologist known as the “father of biodiversity,” in 2007 called for the establishment of an Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) that would integrate all of the information collected about the 1.8 million known species on Earth through international cooperation.

The council’s Forestry Bureau collaborated with Academia Sinica on the TaiEOL project in June 2011 and signed an agreement with the EOL Secretariat to become its 16th cooperative partner the following year. Its efforts culminated in the launch last month of an online EOL version written in traditional Chinese characters.

The bureau commissioned Academia Sinica research fellow Shao Kwang-tsao (邵廣昭) to establish the TaiEOL, which is aimed at serving as an information platform through which to showcase Taiwan’s biodiversity.

Information on 13,000 species in Taiwan can be found in the database at present, including about 4,500 types of vascular plants, 2,900 insects and 2,750 fish, Shao said, adding that the bureau hopes that entries on 16,000 to 20,000 more species will be added by the end of the first phase of the three-year project.

All database content is written, examined and revised by more than 100 academics and specialistd from various universities and research facilities to ensure its credibility and accuracy, the bureau said.

It added that content from several guidebooks that it has published, such as Avifauna of Taiwan (台灣鳥類誌), Manual of Taiwan Vascular Plants (台灣維管束植物簡誌), The Liverwort Flora of Taiwan (臺灣蘚類植物彩色圖鑑) and A Guide to Common Spiders of Taiwan (臺灣常見蜘蛛圖鑑) have been integrated into the TaiEOL.

The bureau said it welcomes contributions to improve the database from all researchers and scientists in schools, organization or the civil sector, as well as from wildlife photographers.

Additional reporting by CNA

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