Global Biodiversity Resource for Monocot Plants (eMonocot)

Lead Research Organisation: Natural History Museum
Department Name: Life Sciences


This is a proposal to build a novel biodiversity web-resource for monocot plants. The site would grow to contain a taxonomic treatment of all monocots with rich associated biodiversity information; it would also be a platform on which new taxonomy can be published and new biological information collected and collated. Monocot plants constitute approximately 20% (70,000 species) of all higher plants and include numerous groups of the highest conservation, ecological and economic importance (for example grasses, sedges, orchids, palms and aroids). The web-resource will be based on an existing checklist prepared by consortium members. Considerable information content will be provided by the consortium, but also by the project providing the tools for the world community of monocot taxonomists to contribute in their areas of expertise. Though the major deliverable of the project will be the first Web-based taxonomy of the monocots, all the ICT tools developed in the project will be fully generic and applicable to other groups of plants. We shall also make sure that they can be used in zoological taxonomy (which have different nomenclatural requirements) by testing them on an animal group for which a Web taxonomy is already available. Finally, we shall work with the Encyclopedia of Life project to ensure that the content we generate can be used by the very broadest spectrum of end users. If our project is successful we shall have revolutionised the way the core of biodiversity science is organised and accessed. We will have radically changed the type of fundamental and applied biodiversity science that is possible and we argue will have made a major contribution to one of NERC's seven major thematic priorities, the science of biodiversity.


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Description 1) Almost 100% of accepted monocot taxa now have descriptions. The portal now also hosts 13,134 images, 32 identification keys and 44 phylogenetic trees.
2) Major software developments have taken place on the eMonocot Portal. Further post-project software development has taken place at RBG Kew using the eMonocot portal at the basis of an online global flora prototype portal. This has led to improvements in the production eMonocot portal in harvesting of text and images from source systems, ironing out issues with descriptions from African floras and key performance enhancements. The system was presented at a meeting of the World Flora Online meeting in St. Petersburg. Fundraising for the online global flora project derived from eMonocot has yielded a potential significant sum to put behind further development of software and content. Support at senior levels with the Natural History Museum and Kew has been forthcoming to develop and sustain an online global flora.
3) Major improvements to the Scratchpads (eMonocot) platform which include revision of taxonomy terms, new bibliographic lookup service (ReFindit), private file storage, additional roles and permissions for private groups and improved display of eMonocot nomenclature have been completed. We have met all our final targets for both software development and system content
Exploitation Route The system has been adopted by other projects and communities including a proposal to use it as the basis for a Global Flora project. The API on the eMonocot portal has also allowed other software developers external to the project to build Apps for select taxa of economic and conservation significance. E.g. Palms.
Sectors Creative Economy

Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)





Museums and Collections

Description A short film profiling eMonocot (e)Taxonomy and biodiversity informatics that supports the impact plan for eMonocot was completed and is available via
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural


Description EC IIF Marie Curie Fellowship
Amount € 309,235 (EUR)
Funding ID 627155 
Organisation Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Global
Start 08/2014 
End 08/2016
Title eMonocot Database 
Description eMonocot is an online resource for monocot plants. At present the database holds systematic information on 277033 taxa, including 13,134 images, 32 identification keys and 44 phylogenetic trees. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The information presented via the eMonocot Portal has been essential to multiple research groups studying the ecology or evolution of the monocot plants, or who wants to understand monocot biodiversity and conservation. It has been used to develop third party Apps (available for Android and Apple iOS devices) for multiple groups, including economically important groups such as Palms. 
Description Royal Botanic Gardens Kew 
Organisation Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Technical development of the eMonocot platform and contributing Scratchpad systems.
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in the technical development of the eMonocot platform and contributing Scratchpad systems as well as content development.
Impact The eMonocot system and database.
Start Year 2012
Description University of Oxford 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Department of Zoology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Technical development of the eMonocot platform and associated Scratchpads.
Collaborator Contribution Technical development of the eMonocot platform and associated Scratchpads.
Impact Completion of the eMonocot platform.
Start Year 2012
Title Scratchpads 
Description Scratchpads are an online virtual research environment for biodiversity, allowing anyone to share their data and create their own research networks. Sites are hosted at the Natural History Museum London, and offered freely to any scientist that completes an online registration form. They were developed and enhanced through a series of projects, the most substantial of which was the NERC funded eMonocot initiative. Sites can focus on specific taxonomic groups, or the biodiversity of a biogeographic region, or indeed any aspect of natural history. Scratchpads are also suitable for societies or for managing and presenting projects. Key features of Scratchpads (see also Scratchpads feature list) include: tools to manage biological classifications, bibliography management, media (images, video and audio), rich taxon pages (with structured descriptions, specimen records, and distribution data), and character matrices. Scratchpads support various ways of communicating with site members and visitors such as blogs, forums, newsletters and a commenting system. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact Scratchpads have a growing user base of more than 7000 researchers, distributed in 820 different scientific communities. Scratchpads are today considered the 'industry leader' in biodiversity-related virtual research environments. Within NHM Scratchpads play a key role in supporting NHM researchers and curators in organising and opening-up biodiversity data to the world. More than 80 NHM staff have been actively using Scratchpads by either maintaining (e.g.,,,,,, or participating in other community scratchpad sites. 
Title eMonocot Portal 
Description The eMonocot Portal links together monocot taxonomists by providing support and tools to enable large distributed communities of taxonomic specialists to manage their taxonomic data online and contribute to eMonocot database. The initial taxonomic classification of monocot plants presented in the eMonocot Portal is that in the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. This classification provides the taxonomic and geographic information for ca. 90,000 accepted taxa (ca. 70,000 species). In addition to the World Checklist, we are aggregating content from 41 systems, which cover particular taxonomic groups in greater depth or which provide additional types of data. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact The platform has been shortlisted by the Global Flora's project - an initiative to construct a global flora for all plant species.