Specialty Group: Taxon Experts


The taxon experts group in many ways represents the backbone of much of the work that goes on in the Jetz Lab and Map of Life, defining what species are to be considered a part of each taxon through to how their associated data is treated and cleaned for ingestion by Map of Life.

Any data coming into Map of Life must go through several steps. First, it must be assigned to a species. Each taxon expert is responsible for selecting a taxonomic authority and generating one if an aggregated one doesn’t exist. An important component is then developing tools to harmonize data collected using other authorities so that they match our taxonomy, as well as providing the flexibility to update the taxonomies as new species are discovered and taxonomies refined.

This data is then cleaned to remove erroneous records, and we are developing methods to do that in a transparent, homogenized, and reproducible way. For example, data may come with spelling mistakes, the wrong coordinates, or be out of date. We harmonize these data for our research and analyses as well as to facilitate downstream analyses, with the movement ecology group to the conservation analytics group and beyond.

Core members:

Charlie Marsh, Emily Sandall, Aurore Maureaud, Doug Booher, Bort Edwards, Yanina Sica, Stefan Pinkert, Maisha Lucas, Kate Ingenloff

Guest members:

Matt Rogan, Richard Li, Mario Ribeiro de Moura, Vijay Barve, John Wieczorek

Projects and point of contact:

Individual taxonomies

Generating master lists, country-checklists and collecting synonyms:
    - Ants (Doug)
    - Plants (Bort)
    - Crabs and marine realm (Aurore)
    - Butterflies (Stefan)
    - Dragonflies and damselflies (Emily)
    - Reptiles (Mario + Yani)
    - Mammals (Charlie + Yani)
    - Birds (Kate + Yani)
    - Marine lobsters (Maisha + Aurore)

Cleaning of occurrence data

Taxonomic harmonisation, identification of taxonomic, orthographic and spatial errors:
    - Taxonomic cleaning working group (Emily)
    - Spatial cleaning working group (Stefan)
    - Overall workflow - Charlie (lead), Yani, Stefan, Bort, Matt

Taxonomy in biodiversity and macroecological synthesis (perspective)

- Emily and Aurore (leads), Charlie, Yani, Maisha, Kate, Stefan, Doug, Bort, Walter (+ external collaborators)

Knowledge gaps in biodiversity data


Marine biogeography and regions of the ocean seafloor

Aurore + Kate (+ external persons not in the taxon expert group)

Data shortfalls in bats


Global synthesis of marine decapods: species ranges and macroecology


Coverage metrics for invertebrate and plant data

Ruth (lead), Doug, Bort, Emily, Stefan

Integrative proxies for the distribution of data-poor species and regions


Functional-phylogenetic diversity in European and African freshwater systems

Stefan (+ external collaborators). LINK: gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/409487552

Environmental drivers of the functional diversity of the butterflies of the world

Stefan (Feodor-Lynen Fellowship - Alexander von Humboldt Foundation)

The role of functional dietary role in mediating latitudinal gradient of size in ants

Doug (+ external collaborators)



Authors: Nathan S. Upham, Jacob A. Esselstyn, Walter Jetz
Nathan S. Upham, Jacob A. Esselstyn, Walter Jetz,, 2021, Volume: 31
Authors: Moura, M. R. & Jetz, W.
Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2021, Volume: 5
Authors: Upham N. S., Esselstyn J. A., Jetz W.
PLOS Biology, 2019, Volume: 17
Authors: Jetz, W., and Pyron, A. R.
Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2018, Volume: N/A
Authors: Burgin, C. J., Colella, J. P., and Upham, N. S.
Journal of Mammology, 2018, Volume: 99
Authors: Rosauer, D. F., Pollock, L. J., Linke, S., and Jetz, W.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 2017, Volume: 284