DNA databases compiling research resources (i.e., sequence data) are now indispensable for genome sciences. Accordingly, databasing vast amount of taxonomic resources, most of which are specimen's images and relevant descriptions, is highly promising for taxonomic research and education. |
But, in contrast to the DNA databases, it is almost impossible to centralize varied taxonomic resources into a few databases. Thus, taxonomy databases will grow as a distributed public domain database (Green, 1994), where each database should be maintained as a "volunteer database" by individual researchers.
Protist image database have been constructed as such volunteer database aimed to provide protist images and other related information as research and educational resources via the Internet. Currently more than 18,000 images and their taxonomic descriptions covering 401 genera and 1398 species can be used by downloading from our web site (URL: http://protist.i.hosei.ac.jp/index.html). In addition, we have been consulting or assisting other volunteer databases on taxonomy of various organisms.
In the course of these activities, we found that the Internet lacks both quality-control and preservation systems essential for scholarly communication. To establish volunteer databases as academic resources, they must be qualified and preserved by public organizations just like journals stored in public libraries.
Keywords: distributed public domain database, volunteer database, biological images, taxonomy, protists,