Catalogue of Life is releasing the first beta of the new COL website and a beta of the COL ChecklistBank, the underlying infrastructure for the new Catalogue of Life. You are invited to provide feedback on these beta releases. Although we keep support for the deprecated legacy API, we strongly recommend users to consider switching over to the new COL ChecklistBank API. In November/December 2020 the new COL website and COL ChecklistBank will go into production.

Welcome to the Catalogue of Life website. The gateway to our online database of the world's known species of animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms.

There are two distinct versions of the Catalogue: the Catalogue of Life monthly edition and the Catalogue of Life Annual Checklist. Choose the version most suited to your needs.

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Catalogue of Life: September 2020 Monthly Checklist

The COL monthly edition of September 2020 (BETA) is assembled in the new COL infrastructure. As the new infrastructure is not yet fully in production, we indicate the COL monthly edition is still a BETA version. The next edition is expected by October 2020. To search the content please access the monthly edition below.


Catalogue of Life: 2019 Annual Checklist

A referenceable snapshot once per year

Next annual publication date: expected in November 2020


An overview of publications (grey & peer-reviewed literature) that use, mention or refer to Catalogue of Life can be found here. With many thanks to VLIZ for making this list available.


The Catalogue of Life is the most comprehensive and authoritative global index of species currently available. It consists of a single integrated species checklist and taxonomic hierarchy. The Catalogue holds essential information on the names, relationships and distributions of over 1.8 million species. This figure continues to rise as information is compiled from diverse sources around the world.
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There is currently no single, universal and complete reference to what species we think are alive today. Without this we can not sustainably use, explore, monitor, manage and protect biodiversity resources.
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The Dynamic Edition is a constantly evolving version of the Catalogue of Life. Anything can change as the list develops: names, their associated details, and their content providers and there is no tracking of those changes. For that reason, the Dynamic Edition is not the one to quote if you wish to cite a verifiable source. It is, however, a great 'expert system', helping those at the forefront of their science to track, and contribute to the development of taxonomy. Periodic issues are progressively enhanced, in what will evolve as a dynamically developing system, made available online and as web-services.

The Annual Checklist is a snapshot of the entire Catalogue of Life: a fixed imprint. If you quote an organism from this version, others will be able to turn to that same reference - at any point in the future. All editions of the Annual Checklist to date are available online, and deposited in libraries around the world. Partner programmes, that link online to the Catalogue of Life, will reference the Annual Checklist.

The content of the Catalogue of Life is supplied by an array of over one hundred expert taxonomic databases world-wide with contributions from over 3,000 taxonomic specialists.
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The Catalogue of Life whilst growing all the time, is not yet complete and currently covers about 92% of described world diversity.
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Yes! If you have a taxonomic database and would like to join the Species 2000 federation of databases in the Catalogue of Life please contact us. We are especially interested in taxonomists that are working in our gap areas.
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