The current Wikispecies logo
Detail of the Wikispecies main page.
Screenshot of home page on 3 May 2011
Type of site
Species directory
OwnerWikimedia Foundation
Created byBenedikt Mandl (proposed project in 2004); Jimmy Wales and the Wikimedia community

Wikispecies is a wiki-based online project supported by the Wikimedia Foundation. Its aim is to create a comprehensive open content catalogue of all species; the project is directed at scientists, rather than at the general public. Jimmy Wales stated that editors are not required to fax in their degrees, but that submissions will have to pass muster with a technical audience.[1][2] Wikispecies is available under the GNU Free Documentation License and CC BY-SA 3.0.

Started in September 2004, with biologists around the world invited to contribute,[3] the project had grown to a framework encompassing the Linnaean taxonomy with links to Wikipedia articles on individual species by April 2005.[2]


Benedikt Mandl coordinated the efforts of several people who were interested in getting involved with the project and contacted potential supporters in the early summer of 2004. Databases were evaluated and the administrators contacted; some of them have agreed on providing their data for Wikispecies. Mandl defined two major tasks:

  1. Figure out how the contents of the data base would need to be presented—by asking experts, potential non-professional users and comparing that with existing databases
  2. Figure out how to do the software, which hardware is required and how to cover the costs—by asking experts, looking for fellow volunteers and potential sponsors

Advantages and disadvantages were widely discussed by the wikimedia-I mailing list. The board of directors of the Wikimedia Foundation voted by 4 to 0 in favor of the establishment of Wikispecies. The project was launched in August 2004 and is hosted at It was officially merged into a sister project of the Wikimedia Foundation on September 14, 2004.

As a database for taxonomy and nomenclature, Wikispecies comprises taxon pages, and additionally pages about synonyms, taxon authorities, taxonomical publications, type material, and institutions or repositories holding type specimen.[5]


Wikispecies has disabled local upload and asks users to use images from Wikimedia Commons. Wikispecies does not allow the use of content that does not conform to a free license.

See also


  1. ^ "Calling all taxonomists". Science. 307 (5712): 1021. 2005. doi:10.1126/science.307.5712.1021a.
  2. ^ a b "WikiSpecies". American Scientist Online. Sigma Xi. 25 April 2005. Archived from the original on 30 April 2005. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  3. ^ Peplow, Mark (15 March 2005). "Species list reaches half-million mark". Nature. doi:10.1038/news050314-6.
  4. ^ "Wikispecies_milestones". Wikispecies. Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  5. ^ "Wikispecies:Page types". Wikispecies. Archived from the original on 2018-07-30. Retrieved 2018-11-01.