TDWG History

Historically, the International Union for Biological Sciences (IUBS), Taxonomic Database Working Group (TDWG) has addressed data standards for plant taxonomic databases. Membership has encompassed major botanical institutions and projects from around the globe. In 1994, the Work Group was given the role by the IUBS to encompass taxonomic databases in general and now has members in geology, zoology and microbiology.

Some Important Dates

The first meeting of the Taxonomic Databases Working Group was held at the Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques in Geneva, from 28th to 30th September, 1985.

According to the first newsletter, published in September 1988, TDWG was "established by the major plant institutions (e.g. de Geneve Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques, the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Missouri Botanical Garden), several international taxonomic database projects (ESFDS, ILDIS), established database vendors (BIOSIS and CABI), and related botanical databases (e.g. IUCN- Conservation Monitoring Centre). The first meeting was convened by the late Prof. Boquet at the Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques in Geneva with Prof. Heywood's encouragement: it provided a stimulating discussion amongst a dozen or so participants, punctuated by the elegant hospitality of Prof. Bocquet and colleagues. At the first meeting in 1985 we did little more than catalogue the needs for a community of taxonomic databases for elements of standardisation and means for data exchange. But as the work progressed very many other individuals and organisations have joined in - both in their desire to see the difficult tasks completed, and in their desire to use TDWG as a valuable forum in its own right to find out what others are doing or to plan collaboration with others of like mind."

There have been a few names changes, but the TDWG "acronym" has survived:

In 1986, the name was changed to Taxonomic Databases Working Group for Plant Sciences.

At the Edinburgh meeting in 1987, it was decided to explore the possibilities for affiliation to both the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS) and the International Association for Plant Taxonomy (IAPT). The first of these came to fruition - TDWG was formally accepted as a Commission of IUBS at its 23rd General Assembly (16-24 October 1988).

In 1988, the name was changed again, to the International Working Group on Taxonomic Databases for Plant Sciences.

In 1994, the Work Group was given the role by the IUBS to encompass taxonomic databases in general and subsequently changed its name once more, dropping the "for Plant Sciences" portion to become the International Working Group on Taxonomic Databases.

In 2006, the TDWG Infrastructure Project ran a survey for members and those interestd in TDWG. One outcome was that the name 'TDWG' did not now accurately represent the core of TDWG's work - developing standards for sharing biodiversity data.  While 'taxonomy' is the anchor that much biodiversity data is linked to, standards are the goal, not taxonomy. Likewise, TDWG now has little to do with how people store data in their 'databases', it focuses on how these data are shared via the Internet. An ad hoc group of interested people discussed a range of options. All agreed that 'Biodiversity Information Standards' should be the key message of our group, but that "(TDWG)" should be retained for historical continuity. A decision was made by the Executive Committee at the St Louis annual conference that our name should therefore be  'Biodiversity Informations Standards (TDWG)'.

See also information on past TDWG meetings.

  Last Modified: 01 May 2007