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The European Register of Marine Species (ERMS) was created in 1998 by a project funded under the European Union MAST research programme. It resulted in a species list for European marine waters. This first version has been published as a book (http://www.vliz.be/imis/imis.php?module=dataset&dasid=30).
ERMS is an authoritative taxonomic list of species occurring in the European marine environment, defined as up to the strandline or splash zone above the high tide mark and down to 0.5 (psu, ppt) salinity in estuaries. The project covers species of the kingdoms Animalia, Plantae, Fungi and Protoctista occurring in the marine environment. Marine viruses are not included. The area covered by the project consists of all the continental shelf seas of Europe, from the Canaries and Azores to Greenland and north west Russia, including the Mediterranean shelf, Baltic Seas and deep-sea areas.
The register is actively maintained and daily updated in the framework of the MarBEF EU Network of Excellence by a board of taxonomic editors, which are world experts on the taxonomy of their relevant taxa. The editorial board of ERMS consists of an Executive Commitee and Associate Editors. Each taxonomic group is represented by an Associate editor, responsible for the quality and content of large taxonomic groups. Associate editors can appoint review editors who are responsible for smaller phyla and families. The collective intellectual property rights of the Associate and Review editors of ERMS are managed by SMEBD, the Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data.
People interested, especially those with expertise in marine taxa, are invited to contact the co-ordinator or other participants to get on the project circulation list. Also relevant ecological information and pictures of taxa, listed in ERMS, are more than welcome. Approved editors of species lists are able to access ERMS online, such that the register will be changing according to need and editorial diligence. Simultaneously, the name of the editor and the revision date for each species or taxon is shown.
ERMS is served from a relational database. The most recent version of the data will always be available through this search interface. At regular intervals, a snapshot of the database will be archived; these archive copies will be kept available through the ERMS web site.
It is anticipated that the Register will become a standard reference (and technological tool) for marine biodiversity training, research and management in Europe.