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Nearctica is going away

The front page of says:


On October 1, 2009 Nearctica will come to an end

The web address will still exist, but the site will only deal with moths of the family Noctuidae.

Thank you for your patronage


Is there any similar resource on the web?

Gone for good?
The site that hosted Nomina Nearctica (as we've known it) seems to have removed the pages from the site. There only remains a database version of the Nomina compilation...

Not just a database version...
There are also downloadable PDFs that include synonomy--which I think is an improvement on what was there before. At any rate, we now have preferred references for most taxa--either online databases that are continually updated, or static lists that were created after Nomina Nearctica.

thks for pointing that out
I didn't notice the pdf files at first.

Some comments
First of all, tempting though it may be to set up a copy of Nomina Nearctica for our use- we can't. This site is built on a foundation of respect for intellectual property rights, which is far more important than the inconvenience of a bunch of dead links.

As for the idea of running a script: there are so many references, it would probably be pointless to create a list, so one would want to automatically change links from Nearctica to something else- but most of the links are to specific pages, which means that there would be dozens of different addresses to look for and substitute. While there's no technical reason this couldn't be done, it would be extremely time-consuming- especially since there wouldn't be a simple one-to-one correspondence between old address and new address.

It would be far easier to convert all links to Nearctica into text- though still not simple by any means. That would mean the replacement could consist of the display-text part of the bbcode or html statements, or a standard message like "*Link removed- Nomina Nearctica has been discontinued*"

An example picked at random from the guide (original here), with the link html modified to be visible:

Listed by <a href="">Nomina Nearctica</a> as Cheteoscelis faseolaria
Listed by Nomina Nearctica as Cheteoscelis faseolaria

I would suggest changing it to:

Listed by Nomina Nearctica as Cheteoscelis faseolaria

Likewise for bbcode (original here):
[url=] Nearctica [/url] lists 129 species.
Nearctica lists 129 species.
Nearctica lists 129 species.

A small technical quibble: BugGuide isn't stored on the servers as html, so one probably wouldn't use scripts (I could be wrong- I don't know much about scripts). It's actually databases, with PHP building the html for each page requested on the fly, so one would probably use some kind of query.

listing species in guide, if not 129 of them
On genus pages, I've been expanding on "Nearctica lists X species" by listing them as well:

According to Nomina Nearctica there are 3 species in our area
According to Nomina Nearctica there are 3 species in our area:
Cycloneda munda Say 1835 (Coccinella)
Cycloneda polita Casey 1899 (Cycloneda)
Cycloneda sanguinea Linnaeus 1763 (Coccinella)

Whether the Nearctica link is removed or changed to a citation, the list is there to see. However, this would be less feasible when there are dozens or hundreds of species; more work, and a lot more scrolling down the page, too.

How about using this citation where applicable: [cite:339637] Though the online list has gone away, the website remains, including information on how to get the list in hard copy or CD-ROM.

Not gone yet
The online list hasn't been deleted yet, and is still accessible. It's possible he might leave it there and remove all the references on the home page- but we can't count on that. He may have just not gotten around to deleting the files yet.

Not gone
I was unable to access it when I made my last comment, but I'm able to now. This on-and-off thing has been going on since I first found out about Nearctica, probably something to do with my internet connection rather than the website itself. I just leaped to the conclusion that it was really gone this time because it's after October 1 now.

Or possibly:
just "Nearctica (1)"

I figured that must already exist somewhere, but I didn't see it when I searched for it. I see now that it was between the thumbnails and matching guides. I'll delete my entry.

technical headache
'Nomina' is heavily cited all over the guide, often as the only/ultimate source. Now we'll have to remove thousands and thousands of refs and otherwise update a lot of pages. [i'm so glad i never took the source seriously and hardly ever quoted it on info pages... --extensively used it, though, for various casual purposes, esp. to drag-n-drop names.]

we can do a Nomina mirror...
One might not wish to heavily advertise one's possession of the entire working HTML version of Nomina Nearctica, but someone does have it (all hail the power of the Firefox DownThemAll extension). It could be put online (someone also has several empty domain names) and the links could be changed to go there - it might be preferable to removing all the links.

Changing all the links
would be as much work as deleting all the links, though, so when people get around to making those changes, we might as well update them (and the taxonomy, if necessary) as indicated by the list here.

Agree with =v= and Charley...
It is definitely a headache. The links will definitely need to be fixed in countless locations. But, it will defintely be worth it in the long run to update those links with information provided by the other websites that Charley has referenced.

For my part, I will do my best to take care of any instances that I come across. The bright side is that I will undoubtedly learn a great deal in the process! (*smile*)

Hold on please before deleting information
Three points:
1-The list of resources Charlie linked to above are good, but you will note they only cover a few groups. Nearctica, despite its shortcomings, covers (or covered) all groups of North American insects.
2-Another problem is that many of the resources Charlie mentioned are not limited to North American species, as is/was That is a critical point of information for this guide. It is very useful in an account of a genus, for instance, to know that there are five North American species in that genus as opposed to fifty--it narrows down the species-level identification issues. That is the intent of the Counts field--to list the number of lower-level North American taxa included. A global list is much less useful for BugGuide, unless one can glean it from the resource. (I just tried it on Orthoptera Species File, and the range information is there, at least for some genera, but it is buried, and would take huge amounts of time to extract.) Repeating: the summary of diversity for North America, even if inexact, is a very useful feature of the lists, and one not duplicated easily by other databases. I suggest that the information itself not be removed, but merely eliminate direct links to In their place, use the citation for the resource here on BugGuide (1). Comments can be placed there noting the availability. (The lists are still available, I presume in print or on CD-ROM.) Of course, if one can find more up-to-date information for North American taxa, that is great, then use it. Global diversity information should be added, I feel, as a separate line in the Counts field, and we have been doing this for some time based on other resources.

3-The other very important point is that other resources on the Internet (and those in print too) become unavailable or obsolete over time--we have just seen that with ALL-Leps. There is no point in removing the information based on now unavailable resources unless it is superseded by equivalent information. Usually the information, such as species counts in a genus, will still be useful, though perhaps inexact. The whole point of citing information from a particular source is that it allows evaluation of currency and reliability.

Excellent points, Patrick.
I should have been more explicit in my own comment... I would not remove any existing information unless I could provide what I felt was equivalent data from some other source. I agree that there are currently many limitations with some of the other resources (particularly in regards to excluding non-North American species from genus/species counts). I think that your suggestion of leaving the reference to data from Nearctica in certain instances and simply replacing the "direct" link with a citation link is quite appropriate. Again, thank you for your thoughtful deliberation and I will certainly take all that you have said into consideration!

I was just about to add a comment to this effect. The resources I'm collecting in that list are meant to supersede Nomina Nearctica in terms of taxonomy, but that doesn't mean the lists of nearctic species we've gleaned from Nearctica are no longer useful. I think the cases are relatively rare where Nearctica is both complete and accurate for a given taxon, but it's certainly a reasonable place to start. It's the links to Nearctica that need to go.

Note that for the most part, the lists I'm collecting are maintained and updated regularly, whereas both Nearctica and All-Leps are static (even though the All-Leps website leads one to believe otherwise). Those that are maintained by organizations, rather than individuals, should be less likely to become obsolete or unavailable.

the lists are indeed available... the handy online format, not just in print or on a CD-ROM. Let's just say I know someone.

Maybe John
can run a script that finds every guide page that contains a URL linking to Nearctica and post it somewhere. Should be huge. Even better if it was a dynamic page, then as editors fix pages the list would update until we were done.

It would be nice if we had some type of script that crawled through all of the guide pages once in a while and found dead links referencing any site (even our own). Wouldn't work in this case because Nearctica is still alive.

Good riddance?
My understanding is that Nearctica was never very reliable to begin with, and certainly never updated. It would be a huge undertaking to make all the changes necessary to make it current, so I suspect they decided to abandon the effort instead. One should probably use databases at the family level or below for the best accuracy....

too bad, Nearctica still useful at times
Oh, this is too bad. Though there are sometimes errors, Nearctica is often the only thing approaching an accessible species list for many, if not most, groups. I find the authorship information to be very useful, for instance, in trying to fill out taxonomic information on guide pages. It usually seems to be accurate.

Although I agree that better databases, should, in theory, be consulted, I don't know of too many out there. (Please enlighten me if you know of some.) I do know that the Catalog of Life, used by the Encyclopedia of Life ( is woefully incomplete for invertebrates, even the well-known groups.
It includes Mexico in its definition of "North America," is that a problem?

I think it may borrow its species lists from Nomina Nearctica, or the other way around, because it also has date and author information. I compared the species lists of a few genera of Coccinellidae side-by-side on both sites, and they were identical.

ITIS obtains names from a variety of sources
depending on availability of expertise.

For bees the ITIS names were not taken from Nomina Nearctica but instead were assembled from an edited consensus of contributions by bee taxonomists to the World Bee Checklist project.

ITIS etc.
Because it includes Mexico, and because it is not complete for many taxa, ITIS is not ideal for getting species lists for the BugGuide region. However, it is more current than Nearctica in a lot of areas, and unlike Nearctica it is being actively revised and updated, so it can be good for checking individual names. For each taxon it gives the year of the most recent review, which is very helpful. When looking for the most current names to use in my book, I used ITIS as the default, but deferred to the following for the taxa they cover:

- Nearctic Spider Database for all spiders
- Hymenoptera Name Server for most Hymenoptera, but Electronic World Catalog of Symphyta for Symphyta and this page for Cynipidae.
- For Lepidoptera, All-Leps is useful for synonymy, but it is never revised or updated, ever. According to Bob Patterson, two of its three authors have told him All-Leps "was a quick and dirt job and should not be followed." In my opinion, we should use the Moth Photographers Group site as our reference for moths, since they have a "taxonomy czar" who keeps the taxonomy constantly up-to-date.
- Orthoptera Species File for Orthoptera.

I did use Nearctica for some things, but I think we'll be able to find replacements on a taxon by taxon basis in many cases. Trichoptera World Checklist is probably a good way to go for caddisflies; Aphid Species File is a work in progress, but is already very useful. I recently added a link to the Cicadellidae page for a USDA list that I always check before making leafhopper guide pages. We've been using the so-called "Acari Project" (the website does not identify itself as such) for mites and ticks, but perhaps there is a better way to go... A species I was looking for was missing from their Oribatida page, so I contacted the person who was supposed to be responsible for it. He was not aware that he was in charge of that page; he had declined several years ago to have anything to do with that website, and he directed me to a current catalog of the Oribatida, which I found had already been incorporated into ITIS.

Maybe we should move this discussion to the Taxonomy forum, and try to come to an agreement about what references to use for the various taxa.

Taxonomy Forum
Start a new topic there, or just move this whole topic? (The original poster can do that, right?)

Nomina Nearctica, with its historical-value species lists, is safely stored on someone's home computer. But someone doesn't want to declare oneself on a public forum, lest copyright protection issues arise.

If John Carr moves this whole topic...
then all the links in my last post will be part of the discussion, which would be nice.

I'm glad someone will have Nomina Nearctica to refer to, as there will no doubt be some taxa that do not have online taxonomic databases dedicated to them.

Nomina Nearctica
Someone would be happy to provide it to other...someones :-)

One might justify having a copy of a publicly available site on one's computer for one's personal use (I'm not qualified to advise on the legal issues), but distributing copies would definitely be illegal. Of course, if it's been abandoned by its author, that might not be enforced.

In this case, though, it's possible he still gets enough revenue from the print and CD versions that he might take action (as is his right) to stop such practices.

Not that you were actually saying you had done or were going to do anything, of course.

....considers oneself warned. Or so someone told me.

BTW, John V. has contacted Bob Poole, perhaps something legitimate can be worked out.

Will the site be cached so that all the work done until this point be accessible?

One could have Nomina Nearctica
It's just a lot of text files in a simple directory structure, and if one downloads the files and creates the same directory structure on one's home computer, one has an exact replica of Nomina Nearctica that can be navigated by opening the "nomina.htm" file in one's Web browser.

One wouldn't want to get in copyright trouble, however, by saying one had downloaded it on a public forum.

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