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Brief Bioinform. 2007 Sep;8(5):347-57. Epub 2007 Aug 17.

Biodiversity informatics: organizing and linking information across the spectrum of life.

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  • 1MBLWHOI Library, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.


Biological knowledge can be inferred from three major levels of information: molecules, organisms and ecologies. Bioinformatics is an established field that has made significant advances in the development of systems and techniques to organize contemporary molecular data; biodiversity informatics is an emerging discipline that strives to develop methods to organize knowledge at the organismal level extending back to the earliest dates of recorded natural history. Furthermore, while bioinformatics studies generally focus on detailed examinations of key 'model' organisms, biodiversity informatics aims to develop over-arching hypotheses that span the entire tree of life. Biodiversity informatics is presented here as a discipline that unifies biological information from a range of contemporary and historical sources across the spectrum of life using organisms as the linking thread. The present review primarily focuses on the use of organism names as a universal metadata element to link and integrate biodiversity data across a range of data sources.

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