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The Ichneumonoidea is one of the largest superfamilies of the apocritan wasps with 60,077 described species and is distributed world wide. Most of its members are parasitic on other insects, therefore they are important biocontrol agents of many agricultural pests. Thus the study of this group is of great scientific and economic significance.
The effort to organize the information of Ichneumonidae started with Dalla Torre's catalogue of the world Ichneumonidae (1901/1902) and continued on by Townes series of catalogues (1965-1987), and finally ended with the world catalogue in 1997. Even without Braconidae, the listing of names took 1,558 pages. Shenefelts catalogue (1969-1975) was an epic work that dealt with the Braconidae which added 1,262 more pages. It was obvious that the printed medium was not an appropriate vehicle to present the information of such a large superfamily. The Taxapad (2012) data management program using Delphi (Pascal) programming language was an attempt to organize this mass of information into a digital database. The taxonomic, biological, morphological and distribution information of the superfamily Ichneumonoidea gleaned from 33,076 references were organized based on scientific names and information type. In total, there are approximately 4.3 million referenced data elements in the Taxapad. Currently, Taxapad is only available in the MS Window format. Therefore, it is hoped that this initial step in converting the CD formatted information into a web based format will make this information more widely accessible.
Due to its role in limiting the growth of so many other insects, a database of Ichneumonoidea would be quite meaningless without the other partners that make up the Ichneumonoidea universe. Therefore this database has a total of 343,386 names. I can verify most of the Ichneumonoidea names, as I have seen most of the 33,076 references (see the reference index in the Ichneumonoidea taxonomic group) that provide all the information from which the database is created. Additionally, Dr. Kees van Achterberg (Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum, Leiden) and Dr. Klaus Horstmann (Biocentrum, Wurzburg) have actively checked the taxonomic validity of many of the names, and for their input, I am most thankful. Although I cannot vouch for the correctness of the taxonomic position of the other names, nevertheless these names are derived from publications of prominent taxonomists in their groups. With all the necessary names in place, it is then possible to link all the taxa to their respective web of life partners based on the Ichneumonoidea (Yu, van Achterberg & Horstmann 2005) and Chalcidoidea (Noyes 2001) viewpoints. This is done in this database.
The database as envisaged by the Taxapad project, is divided into 25 taxonomic groups that encompasses all living things, and each is independently managed. Each has its own list of taxonomic names, reference list, information database, and glossary. From these are derived their own indexes and secondary and tertiary data structures. Each though is supportive of one another by providing valid scientific names for common use. The unifying element is the global index (the One Ring) that users enter to search for information. So please click on GLOBAL INDEX and start your search.
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