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Web resources for the biodiversity and ecology of animals
Introducing the Swire Institute of Marine Science Museum-a resource that may be useful for your research!
New locality records species of conservation concern
Society of Conservation Biology 16th Annual Meeting at the University of Kent at Canterbury, UK. 14th-19th July 2002
Watching wildlife in Panamá
My trip to the South American rainforest
The most accessible rainforest in the world?
Trekking in the Peruvian Andes

Web resources for the biodiversity and ecology of animals

by Valerie C.M. Ho, Danny C.P. Lau, Justine C.Y. Tsui, George K.K. Kwok, K.H. Chu, and David Y.N. Poon


A diverse group of people is interested in learning about the biodiversity and ecology of animals e.g. government agencies, private consultants, academic institutions and non-government organizations (NGOs). The advent of the Web has made massive information accessible through computers. But the identification of relevant and reliable sites for use in environmental science can be a headache for users looking for the right information. To make searches easier, we surfed the net and tried to come up with some currently available useful free Web resources related to molluscs, insects, fishes, mammals, amphibians and crustaceans. In this paper, some of the best web sites are recommended. We hope that this paper will make information searches less problematic and time-consuming for readers in the future.


A lot of nice web sites are available for the mollusca. The first few sites provide thorough and detailed information on morphology, biology, ecology, physiology, reproduction, food preferences and feeding habits of molluscs, as well as a glossary of malacology. A very powerful resource guide called BIOSIS has over 100 hyperlinks to Web sites and journals relating to the seven classes of molluscs in all discipline, e.g. ecology, life history, anatomy, systematics etc. In addition, an image collection is uploaded with pictures of over 200 species of molluscs found in Singapore, Malaysia and the rest of Southeast Asia. The Web site, however, does not provide any description of the species. Furthermore, one site, The Micro Shells [BISYOGAI] provides detailed descriptions of molluscan species. The Animal Diversity Web of the Zoology Museum of Michigan University has general descriptions which introduce the phylum mollusca and its seven classes.

Among the five Web sites, the Living World of Molluscs is the best one to provide the most thorough information of molluscs whereas BIOSIS is the most powerful in providing links to the suitable Web sites.

1. The Living World of Molluscs


3. The Molluscan Pictures

4. The Micro Shells (BISYOGAI)

5. The Animal Diversity Web of the Zoology Museum of the University of Michigan

Crustacea (Decapoda)

Decapod crustaceans are a diverse group of animals that, like molluscs, are dominant aquatic ecosystem fauna. A lot of websites are available for decapod crustaceans, in particular for commercial species. Many of these websites are, however, created by aquatic hobbyists or only span a small section of official fisheries webpages and are therefore not listed here. Unlike for fishes, official detailed websites dedicated to taxonomy, distribution and identification of crustaceans are few, in particular for the anomurans such as hermit crabs and porcelain crabs.

The first web site is basically a jump-station type website which provides a collection of homepages dedicated to crustaceans. The next three URL links are websites that provides quick and easy searches on terminology or taxonomic details about decapod crustaceans. The next two links are websites dedicated to selected groups of decapods. The following two links provide checklists (with photos) of decapods which can be found in their respective region. The last link is a webpage talking about horseshoe crabs. Although horseshoe crabs are not crustaceans, in view of the paucity of websites focusing on these threatened species, this web-link is included in this article.

Many Japanese crab maniacs, however, often create web pages with high quality digital photos with professional taxonomic identification, which are useful for species identification purposes.

1. Biosis Resource Guide: Crustacea

2. An information retrieval system for crustaceans of the world
(An Australian Museum website)

3. Crustacea Glossary (From Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)

4. Shikoku University Decapod Index (From *The Home Page of ETI-Japan)

5. Mike Rosenberg’s Fiddler Crab Homepage (From Arisona State University)

6. J. Poupin’s Indo-West Pacific Calcinus (Anomura: Diogenidae)

7. Marine Crustaceans of Southern Australia

8. Taiwanese Naturalist (With Chinese and English versions)

9. **The Horseshoe Crab: Natural History, Anatomy, Conservation and Current Research

Some suggested Japanese website (In Japanese)

1. Yadokari Institute (Japanese hermit crab webpage, with introduction on general biology, species lists and excellent digital photos)

2. Japanese Crab Field Guide 6th Edition (A webpage with excellent crab photos from a wide variety of families)

3. The Encyclopedia of the Ecology of Japanese Mitten Crab (A webpage created by the aquatic ecologist Dr. Kobayashi presenting with an English summary page, his works on the ecology of Japanese Mitten Crab Eriocheir japonica)

*ETI: Expert Centre for Taxonomic Identification. ETI is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in operational relations with UNESCO

**Horseshoe crab belongs to Class Merostomata


The insects are a very large and diverse group under the phylum Arthropoda. They are believed to be extremely successful in terms of number of species, individuals and habitats in the terrestrial part of this world although some of them act as aquatic larvae during their life cycle. Extensive information is available on many websites, which are set up by governmental organizations or other institutions, while some are maintained privately.

The list below includes websites suggested by the authors. The first website provides a database according to the type of insect, while the next two are websites that include several links to different organizations or institutions related to entymology. The rest of the list are websites that provide detailed information on species diversity, taxonomic information, distribution and photography of insects.

1. Iowa State Entomology Index: Databases

2. Insect on WWW

3. Scientific Reference Research

4. CSIRO Entomology

5. Agricultural Scientific Collections Unit

6. Exhibit on Canada’s Biodiversity

7. Bugbios

8. Class: Insecta

9. Australian Insect Common Names

10. Thailand’s Amazing Insects


The following list shows some of the best free web resources related to amphibians. The first three web sites contain useful information like general descriptions, distribution, habitat, life history and special behaviours. The AmphibiaWeb Database is a highly recommended web site for searches as it is user-friendly. Counts of amphibian individuals over time by previous researchers can be checked using the Amphibian Count. This is useful for students or researchers to calculate sample size(s) for their own studies. Searches for articles about amphibians can be conducted by keyword, geographic region or genus in the fifth web site. Last, but not least, is a database of toxicity data of various contaminants and endpoints for reptiles and amphibia.

1. AmphibiaWeb Database

2. Species search

3. Amphibian Species of the World V2.21 Database

4. Search the AmphibianCount Database

5. Amphibian Information Website (Draft)

6. Reptile and Amphibian Toxicology Literature (RATL)


Because of the extensive variation in morphology, adaptation and behavior observed in this group of amazing animals, it is not easy to find a web site that can include every single detail for each species of fish. As a result, most of the web sites choose to concentrate on one or two aspects. Many are set up by fishery departments and academic institutes while a lot of NGOs and fish hobbyists set up their own web pages providing loads of useful and interesting facts about the Pisces. But this section will focus only on those made by official organizations.

Below is a list of websites that readers will find useful when doing research relevant to this phylum. The first three web sites are powerful fish databases providing comprehensive information on fish and their larvae occurring around the world. Search results for the fourth to sixth websites will yield information on taxonomy, geographic distribution, external and internal morphology etc. In addition, references are given for further reading in these web sites. Scientific publications and photos are available also, along with multiple links to various fishery societies. HK Fish Net and Native Fish Australia particularly emphasize Indo-Pacific fishes found in the region. While HK Fish Net is an informative and beautifully created websites on local fish species, Native Fish Australia features some of the native Australian fish and introduced fish grouped by family, and has their basic distribution (by State) and conservation status data. Last, but not least, the last web site features techniques on aquaculture and fish production. The information might be useful for readers looking for materials in the fishery sector.

1. Fishbase

2. Larval Base

3. SPC Coastal Fisheries Programme

4. CAS-Ichthyology Catalog of Fishes

5. The World-Wide Web Virtual Library: Fish

6. Ichthyology web resources

7. Fish Collection-online search

8. The Breeder’s Registry

9. Aqua fish database

10. Hong Kong Fish Net

11. Native Fish Australia


Mammals, both terrestrial and marine, receive great attention in biological studies as we ourselves are mammals. Despite enormous effort in conservation, many mammals are under threat of extinction by human activities like hunting and landscape changes. This phylum has long been studied and there is plenty of information available on the net. Below are some selected websites, which allow access to reliable and accurate information. Most of them are set up by official NGOs and conservationists. These educational websites provide extensive information on terrestrial mammals. Apart from general facts like distribution, habitats and threats faced, most of these sites provide extensive linkages to other useful web sites for further reading (e.g. the first website on our list). News of endangered mammals and birds is constantly updated in the second and third web sites. Usually, these homepages focus on a few types of mammals. Some of them are well known, e.g. panda and dolphins while others allow us to get a glimpse of endangered keystone species that the public is less familiar with. In addition, the conservation effort performed by various parties and some of the conservation projects underway around the world are mentioned in the last three websites. Human factors causing the extinction of species such as illegal trading, and overexploitation are also discussed.

1. Mammals a WVC library by research

2. Green Nature

3. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

4. WWF Global Species Account

5. Conservation and Research

6. The Asian Conservation Awareness Programme.

7. BUBL Link/ 5:15



The Internet is a good starting point for locating useful information. But it is important to note that the web addresses provided in this review need to be updated regularly in order to obtain the latest information and evaluated carefully for accuracy. Nonetheless we hope this attempt to identify useful pages will be of use and readers are encouraged to conduct searches of their own.


We would like to thank Dr Kenneth Leung for initiating this project and commenting on an early draft of this paper. The authors are grateful for most useful comments by the editor Dr Yvonne Sadovy.


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