27 March 2020
Biodiversity informatics depends on digital access to credible information about species. Many online resources host species’ data, but the lack of categorisation for these resources inhibits the growth of this entire field. To explore possible solutions, we examined the (now retired) Biodiversity Information Projects of the World (BIPW) dataset created by the Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG); this project, which ran from 2007-2015 (officially removed from the TDWG website in 2018) was an attempt at organising the Web's biodiversity databases into an indexed list. To do this, we applied a simple classification scheme to score databases within BIPW based on nine data categories, to characterise trends and current compositions of this biodiversity e-infrastructure. Primarily, we found that of 600 databases investigated from BIPW, only 315 (~53%) were accessible at the time of this writing, underscoring the precarious nature of the biodiversity information landscape. Many of these databases are still available, but suffer accessibility issues such as link rot, thus putting the information they contain in danger of being lost. We propose that a community-driven database of biodiversity databases with an accompanying ontology could facilitate efficient discovery of relevant biodiversity databases and support smaller databases – which have the greatest risk of being lost.