Newsletter 2 - ICN Data Portal Release (3.3.2009)

Quite a long time has elapsed since you have heard first from us in March 2007, when we launched this initiative and announced the outline of the project in a first newsletter on this website. Basic information on the project and its background, a members’ list and a new literature section are available here.

Together with the IT developers of EDIT workpackage 5 we have been struggling hard during this time to fulfil a first bunch of our announcements. Finally, we are now in the position to launch a first prototype version of the Cichorieae Data Portal at The data portal is based on a new data model developed by EDIT workpackage 5 and produces dynamic webpages on demand, displaying content that is extracted from the underlying database.


Of course, the difference between this prototype version and the anticipated aim still appears considerable. This is true both for functionality and design as well as for the amount of now visible data. However, this first prototype already shows some of the required functionalities.


As the ICN is a collaborative project, we would very much appreciate your comments, criticism and recommendations at this early stage, so that we can try to improve functionality and design of the portal according to the users’ needs.


Recommended taxa

The data available for display are still fragmentary, as you will notice. To explore the first functionalities of the data portal, we therefore recommend to have a look at the following exemplar taxa, which have more extensive datasets regarding descriptions, illustrations and synonymies.


Askellia nana

Cichorium intybus

Crepis aurea

Lactuca orientalis

Lactuca triquetra

Launaea arborescens

Launaea picridioides

Launaea rhynchocarpa

Podospermum purpureum

Soroseris gillii

Tragopogon pratensis


Like any taxon in the portal, these taxa are accessible either via the search field, or by browsing the taxon tree. Fully referenced synonymies are nearly complete for the subtribes Crepidinae, Lactucinae and Scorzonerinae and for many more taxa.

What has been done so far?


Data capture:


-Â Names, nomenclatural references and protologues:

Starting from the first import of regional data (Euro+Med Plantbase – Compositae [ed. W. Greuter 2005-2007] and Taraxacum, [ed. J. Kirschner, J. Štepánek & W. Greuter 2006-2007]), world-wide compilation of accepted names at genus and species rank is now complete for the tribe, with the exception of the genera Hieracium and Pilosella, which we have skipped entirely so far. For tackling these latter genera we are anticipating a feasible and systematically sound two-level-taxonomy solution, differentiating between a set of taxa relevant and manageable for a wide range of purposes and users, and a second set of taxa below the first one displaying the microcosmos of actual diversity. Compilation of further data first focussed on Crepidinae, Lactucinae and Scorzonerinae and we are continuing to add them for other subtribes. Many synonymies are still incomplete, but in many other cases you will find complete, critically checked compilations of synonyms as nowhere else available. Currently, the following ranks are accepted: subtribe, genus, section (only for Taraxacum), species and subspecies. About 3300 scanned protologues can be found in the portal, and we are continuously adding more, aiming at a complete collection of all Cichorieae protologues. The systematics of the tribe displayed in the taxon tree is based on the most recent molecular phylogeny of the tribe by Gemeinholzer & al., as is outlined in the forthcoming overview of the tribe (Kilian, Gemeinholzer & Lack in: Funk, Susanna, Stuessy & Bayer (ed.) 2009 [in press]: Systematics, Evolution, and Biogeography of the Compositae. IAPT, Vienna.


-Â Descriptions, ecology and images:

We have started to integrate taxon descriptions and ecological information from the literature as well as a first small number of images, together with image-related data. For the time being, the most detailed morphological descriptions are taken from the literature and displayed in the portal. In a second step anticipated for somewhat later this year we are starting to replace them by new standardized descriptions generated with Delta Access.


- Distribution data:

Several thousand literature-referenced geographical data have been compiled from the literature, using the entities of TDWG level 4 as mapping units. However, this process is not yet complete and therefore, the resulting maps are fragmentary and to be seen as models, not as maps pretending to show the complete distribution of a taxon.


What is planned for the near future?

  • Documenting the systematic concepts employed;

  • Explaining the data standards used regarding references, abbreviations of authors, geographical data, etc. in greater detail on the starting pages of the portal;

  • Building image galleries for each accepted taxon;

  • Continuing to compile names, protologues, descriptions and geographical data;

  • Standardizing the taxon descriptions;

  • Providing a comprehensive glossary;

  • Adding vernacular names and making them searchable.


How can you participate?

  • Take a few minutes to explore the portal functionalities and let us know your comments;

  • Contribution of images: We hope that you can help populating the galleries with your images, primarily of living plants, but also with all kinds of micromorphological images from SEM or light microscopy. Metadata for your images with appropriate crediting will be shown. An upload mechanism for your images is currently being developed; for the time being please contact us directly;

  • Contribution of data: a regular, simple mechanism for uploading your data is still under construction. However, if you would like to see your data on the portal, contact us directly and we will certainly try to find a way to import and display them;

  • Become a taxon editor / editorial board member: At this early stage of the portal development and for technical reasons, direct data editing is still restricted to the initial editors. However, as the project develops, specialists who would like to take the responsibility for their groups are most welcome to join the editorial board of the Cichorieae portal. Please let us know if you would like to adopt a group of taxa.

For any of the mentioned contributions you will be fully credited on the website.

The Berlin EDIT WP6 Cichorieae Team

(Norbert Kilian, Ralf Hand, Eckhard von Raab-Straube)