Dr Peter Schalk ‘Biodiversity Science in the Future. Creating Order in the Acronym Soup of Organisations’

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Thursday, 5 March 2020 - 12:30pm

Peter is Deputy Director, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, The Netherlands and the Executive Secretary of Species 2000.  He will discuss the Catalogue of Life, the world's most comprehensive and authoritative index of known animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms, created in 2001 as a partnership between the global Species 2000 and the American Integrated Taxonomic Information System.  This global index of species names and synonyms, now counting 1.9 million valid species, will further science and promote sensible measures in the context of climate change and biodiversity loss.


Taxonomy and systematics bring order in the biodiverse world around us.  Species names are the vocabulary underpinning communication in biological sciences.  Since Linnaeus taxonomists have described some 2.1 million species, but there may be up to 8 million species or more.  The Catalogue of Life represents the voice of the taxonomic community through a comprehensive index of species names and synonyms now counting 1.9 million valid species.  A living continuously updated index that is used by a growing number of data aggregators in biological sciences.  A growing number of organisations with a variety of acronyms is involved in unlocking information that is of the essence for understand the living world around us.  Correct use of valid names is needed to connect datasets from different realms.  The Catalogue of Life and Global Biodiversity Information Facility together with some of the large global data aggregators and research infrastructures are collaborating to form an incubator for "the Alliance": a federation which will work on a shared agenda. The resulting coherent information infrastructure will help in furthering science and promoting sensible measures in the context of climate change and biodiversity loss.


Peter Schalk holds a PhD in marine biology, specialized in taxonomy, ecology, and biodiversity informatics.  He worked as scientific researcher at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar Research, and as managing director at ETI Biodiversity Center.  Since 2013 he has been Deputy Director at Naturalis Biodiversity Center, responsible for the museum, education, business development and international collaboration.  Peter is also the Executive Secretary of Species 2000, the legal body behind the Catalogue of Life, of which he was one of the founders.  From 2014-18 he was Governing Board Chair of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), and currently part of the Executive Committee in his role as Budget Committee Chair.