Collections choose one taxonomic source to represent their “specimen taxonomy.” Any number of sources are available, but they can be categorized into three functional groups. A particular source may fall into one group or another depending on the actions of other collections and on personal connections to the publisher of the source. Read more about Arctos taxonomy and browse taxonomic terms in Arctos.

1) Shared local source

These sources are managed locally through Arctos tools. They are used by multiple collections, and changes to the source needs to be coordinated among the users. This is the most common situation, with the majority of collections using the “Arctos” source. Taxonomy in this source is derived from a legacy flattened table of taxonomic names used by different collections. This approach allows local collaboration (eg, Collection A contributes information about Taxon A while simultaneously receiving information about Taxon B from Collection B).

2) Remote sources

These sources come into Arctos through the GlobalNames web service, and cannot be changed locally. Changes to the names requires communication with the resource, so that new names may be added and updates may be implemented. Despite the multitude of well-funded taxonomy initiatives publishing data to the Internet, no source has yet proven comprehensive and responsive enough to  completely satisfy users.

3) Unshared local sources

These differ from shared local sources only in that other collections do not use them. Collections using these sources must curate the data for all taxonomy that is attached to their specimens, and any changes affect only those specimens.