The Animal Diversity Web provides a valuable resource for students, researchers, and wildlife professionals worldwide. We rely on contributors such as you to expand and revise our database on animal species; we also hope that the process is a valuable learning experience. Please follow these instructions carefully to make the submission process go smoothly.Instructions must be followed or the account cannot be published. We look forward to working with you.
Your first step will be logging in to your ADW workspace and signing up for a species. Once you have selected a species you should review the sections on researching and writing about animal species. Detailed instructions on how to enter information in our online template will follow those sections.
If you have already signed up for a workspace, login here.
Click on Login or register in the upper right hand corner. Enter the name and password that you chose when you created your workspace. If you forget your login name or password, fill in the form at the bottom of the Login page. Your login name and password will be immediately sent to you.
Everyone should choose different species and no one should report on a species for which an account is already available unless your instructor has obtained an override from us. WE NO LONGER ALLOW SUBSPECIES (if your italicized scientific name has three parts, you are looking at a subspecies).
We recommend that you decide on a short list of species that you might like to investigate. If your instructor has given you a wishlist, start there.
You may choose your species from our wishlist. This list includes species for which we have no information currently on the site. The wishlist also includes some species whose existing accounts on our site need to be replaced. Finally, the list includes many species for which we have images or sounds but no natural history information. Once you have logged into your ADW:Work workspace, you can browse through a list of such species using the Signup by wishlist option.
You may choose a species completely new to us. Go to the Animal Diversity Web to see if accounts are already present. Use the Search function to check both common and scientific names. We have hundreds of accounts awaiting publication, so attempting to sign up is the only way to be absolutely sure a name is not taken.
Tread carefully and don't override the Check your spelling message.
The sign up by scientific name process checks the spelling of your name against our authority lists. You must be confident that you have the correct and current scientific name for that species. Taxonomy changes actively in all animal groups, even well-studied ones. You may end up wasting your time writing about a species that is currently recognized as several species or for which we already have an account under a different name. If your name doesn't match a scientific name in our authority lists, it may be spelled wrong or be an obsolete name.
If you don't want to write a narrative for a species you've already reserved, go to the "state" tab for that account and select "shelve". This will make that name available for others to choose and will make your account disappear.
You could start by searching on your scientific and common names on the Animal Diversity Web. Maybe your species eats or is eaten by an animal we already have. You should consult other online sources and traditional encyclopedias. Click here for tips on web searching. The University of Michigan Shapiro Science Library maintains an excellent page on finding species information: http://guides.lib.umich.edu/content.php?pid=40712. Some of their links will be available only to people within the University of Michigan network, but others are available to everyone.
In almost no case, however, can a full account be written by referring solely to such sources. We expect you to use standard library resources as well, particularly sources written by authorities in the field. This includes primary research articles and edited book articles. By looking in the bibliographies of more general sources, such as encyclopedias or other types of summarized information, you can often find citations for more specific sources that will be useful in your research. Be prepared to do some inter-library loans to get scientific books on the group that your species belongs to, or journal articles on the particular genus or species.
In some cases it may be difficult to find certain kinds of information, especially information on animals that have not been extensively researched. If this is the case then it is your challenge to: 1) be certain that the information is truly lacking, 2) try to find something informative to say based on scientific knowledge of close relatives or attributes of the larger taxon to which the species belongs or, 3) write a short statement indicating that the information is not available. This can be as simple as saying: "There is little available information on reproduction in Malabar spiny dormice." Do not leave text sections blank!! Students also sometimes make the mistake of using information for the larger taxon, such as the family to which the species belongs, in place of specific information. This is particularly true of animals that are not well known. It is acceptable, if no information is available, to make a qualified statement such as: "Specific foraging behaviors of these animals have not been studied. However, foraging behaviors in their close relatives consist of . . .," But it is misleading to suggest that the features of close relatives, or the larger taxonomic group, are identical to the species in question.
In some cases there may be disagreement on an issue among sources. If this is the case then more recent and more authoritative sources should be heeded. You may also wish to email an authority to clarify issues. Email addresses are often found on published articles or email contacts can be discovered by searching institutional sites where these authorities are, such as a university website. If it seems there is true disagreement on an issue regarding your animal, please be sure to discuss this in your narrative.
Be critical of online sources you choose to use. Remember that almost anyone can publish a website or edit a wikipedia page. It is especially important to avoid using sites that are likely to change frequently (personal pages), un-authored sites, or other informal online sources such as chat boards, newspapers, blogs, or etc. If you cannot find an author on the particular page you are using, back up through the url to the Home page and find an author or person responsible for maintaining the site.
You should rely primarily on authoritative sites such as those affiliated with universities, research institutions, and established conservation or wildlife agencies (IUCN, World Wildlife Fund, etc.) In some cases you may find valuable information from more informal sites but you should be very cautious about using information from sources such as exotic pet sites or amateur hobbyists. If you cannot find similar information from a more reputable source then don't be responsible for disseminating misinformation!
For mammals, an especially good source of information is the "Mammalian Species" series. For birds, try the "Birds of North America" series of reviews. Please also check our Other links page for websites that offer access to sources of information on other vertebrate species and on invertebrates.
Do not plagiarize! Plagiarism is dealt with severely at most educational institutions. Your account will eventually be edited by one of our staff with experience in the taxonomic field to which your animal belongs. These experts have extensive experience with the reference materials that you are most likely to use and they will be able to discern which text is plagiarized and which is original. When we discover instances of plagiarism we will report it to your instructor, so don't take the chance! If plagiarized material does get published on the Animal Diversity Web and the original source discovers this, you could be subject to a lawsuit by the copyright holder. The best way to avoid this is to cite all of your references and write your text using your own words. Begin by reading all of your reference material and organizing that information using the format of our online template. Then write the text by referring only to your notes and not while reading from one of your sources.Provide citations for all references that you used in writing particular sections of material.
Our new online template makes this process very simple (see References below).
Read lots of examples of species accounts already in the Animal Diversity Web. Be careful; many accounts we have received in the past are published online, and some are better than others. We are currently imposing more rigorous standards for account publication. Some particularly good examples to follow are Hirundo rustica and Polyodon spathula.
In our new online template we have included a greatly expanded set of keywords in many of the sections. These will make keyword searching on the site much more efficient and provides students with new ways to mine the data on ADW. However, in writing your account, you must provide complete and accurate descriptions in the text boxes for each section! It is not sufficient to simply fill out checkboxes. The expanded template also acts as a useful research tool. Use the available checkboxes and text boxes as suggestions for the kinds of information that you need to look for. If you have done some research and you find that you don't know if your animal is found along coastlines or in the deep ocean (see Habitat checkboxes) then you have some more research to do! You will also find that each section of the template is accompanied by help text that is intended to describe what kinds of information should go in each section. By clicking on the ? to the left of each template section header you can link directly to the relevant portion of these guidelines.
The template uses structured text language for formatting. Any italics, bolds, or links created in your word document will not appear in the published version unless you use the following directions to create special formatting.
To refer to species or other taxonomic groups, including the species you are writing about, we'd like you to use any of these variations:
<<Lama glama>> <<Carnivora>>
Wrapping any latin name between the << >> markers will let the system link these names to other information in ADW automatically, as well as taking care of properly italicizing them. Note that if you want to refer to a whole genus, you need to put "g." in front of the name. For example, Lama is entered as:
This is the only rank that needs a special indicator. For species, and for higher ranks (families, orders, etc.) just put the double brackets around the name, and our system will format them and create the link.
If you want to create a link using a common name (or other descriptive text), you can mark up the name this way:
`Llamas <<Lama glama>>` Those `amazing caddies <<Lama glama>>` of golf...
which will link the phrase Llamas or amazing caddies to the Lama glama account.
Please don't link the common name of the animal about which you are writing to its own account! Only create links to other accounts.
To *italicize*, place a single asterisk on either side of the words to be italicized with no spaces between the asterisk and the leading and ending words.
To **bold**, place double asterisks on either side of the words to be italicized with no spaces between the asterisks and the leading and ending words.
To ***bold and italicize***, place three asterisks on either side of the words to be italicized and bolded, as above.
To __underline__, place a double underline on either side of the words to be underlined, as above.
Any url in the text will be turned into a live link.
In order to create a live link with the name of the site use:
`Site Name <url>`
`Tree of Life <http://phylogeny.arizona.edu/tree/>`
Spelling and grammar are important! If you are uncomfortable with your writing skills, we suggest that you look at The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. This booklet is a short, beautifully written summary of all you need to know about writing (scientific or otherwise).
The sections that follow describe how to enter information into the ADW online template. Please follow these instructions carefully. These instructions follow the order in which you should complete this process.
From your course workspace, click on "New Sign Up" in the upper left corner of the screen. First you will see a screen that asks you to sign up for a species either by entering a name or by selecting a species from our wishlist. If we already have an account for that animal (and it's not on our wishlist), you'll receive an error message. You'll have to try another animal. If you would like to change your species signup you can do so under the "identification" tab. If you would like to delete a species signup, simply go to the workspace, select the box next to the species name, and click on delete.
Once you've successfully signed up for a species, you will be required to review and acknowledge having read our plagiarism statement (see below). You'll then see a set of abbreviated instructions which tells you how to proceed through the account writing process. You can always get back to these brief instructions by clicking on the "help" tab. You can also always get to the relevant portion of the contributor guidelines by clicking on the "?" to the left of any template section title.
The copyright release appears as a tab along the top of your ADW workspace. In order for your account to be published online you must read the copyright assignment form and release your copyright for the species account to the University of Michigan. However, you are under no obligation to release your copyright and it has no effect on your course or assignment or how your instructor will grade your work. You must at least review the form before you can submit your account to your instructor. You can change your copyright assignment at any time that your account is available to you for editing (before submitting to your instructor and if the instructor releases the account back to you) through the Copyright Release tab.
You should enter all of your references before you begin entering information into the online template. Go to the References tab along the top of your workspace. Choose the appropriate reference type and enter all of the information in the reference fields. Some fields will not be applicable but you should be careful to fill in every field that is applicable. For example, an encyclopedia entry that you are using may or may not have author names associated with it, but be certain that you have looked carefully for this information. Please note that many of the reference types have areas for indicating if this reference was found online. Web page references are for web pages that do NOT fit the other online reference categories. The web resource reference type is for sites, pages (a web page is a page within a larger web site), images, sounds, or videos that were found online. Finally, do NOT add periods at the end of reference field entries, all necessary punctuation is added automatically to the final reference.
Once you have entered all of your references in the correct reference format you can begin adding information to natural history sections in the online template. Within each template text section (food habits, reproduction, habitat, etc.) you must select all of the references that you used in writing that section. By entering references before you begin writing you can easily select all relevant references from the list that appears under each text box. This will automatically enter the references in the appropriate citation format at the end of each paragraph.
If you have gotten information from a conversation or email with a researcher, you should give the person's name (with first and middle initials) and indicate "personal communication." E.g. (Lacey, E.A. personal communication). You will have to enter this kind of citation manually at the end of the sentence or section in which you use information from a personal communication. It is customary to obtain permission from researchers before you cite them in this way.
After you have reviewed the plagiarism and copyright statements and entered your references you can begin adding information to the template sections. Clicking on the species name or clicking on the View tab along the top of your workspace will take you to the editor screen. Click on the Edit button for the natural history section you wish to work on. You can paste text into the box and make any changes you wish. You should have filled out all of your references under the references tab before beginning to fill in the online template (see References section). If so, all of your references will appear as a list just below each text box. Paste in the first paragraph of your text for that natural history section in the text box, then select all of the references that you used to write that paragraph. These references will then appear in the proper citation format at the end of your paragraph.
If you have text for that natural history section that is organized into multiple paragraphs then click on the Add Paragraphbutton. You will get a new text box into which you can paste your next text paragraph. You can then select the relevant references for that paragraph from the pull down menu. You can continue this process until all of your paragraphs are entered and all relevant references are selected. In the published account your paragraphs will not appear as separate sections, they will appear in a normal format with line breaks between paragraphs.Click on all checkboxes that apply to your species. This is important. You should use the checkboxes that appear in each section as a guide to what kind of information should be appearing in each text box. Checkboxes are not a substitute for text. For example, if your animal is nocturnal it is not sufficient to check the nocturnal checkbox, you must also describe all information in the text boxes. Also, the checkboxes available in the template may not describe your animal species accurately. Please do your best to check the keywords that are relevant to your animal *and* comment on aspects of natural history that may not fit these checkboxes well.
Once you have finished working on a particular section, or at any time, click on the Save Changes button, which occurs at both the top and the bottom of an edit page, to save your work.
A section may be linked to extra resources. If you click on a resource, it opens in a different window so that you may reference it while still keeping your edit window active. When you have finished working on a section, click on the Save Changes button to save the changes you made to that section or click the back button on your browser window to revert to the previously saved version.
During each editing session, you may work on as much or as little of the total narrative as you wish. Because you save each time you edit a section, you don't need to perform a final save before logging out or exiting the website.
Wilson and Reeder, Mammal Species of the World, is our ultimate authority for mammals. A list of species recognized by Wilson and Reeder is also available online at http://www.nmnh.si.edu.
We are currently updating our bird classification to follow the UMMZ Bird Division's system, which will be based on the recent edition of Howard and Moore (http://www.ummz.lsa.umich.edu/birds/index.html).
We use the EMBL Reptile Database for reptile taxonomy.
The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS, online at: http://www.itis.usda.gov/index.html) is being used for all other vertebrates and invertebrates but this source is not complete (for more details, see ADW Authority Lists).
If you see information already filled in for your species, that means we prefer a particular classification and you cannot make changes. You may describe any deviations from this classification in the Other comments section, as other biologists are free to disagree with our view of the animal kingdom. Talk to your instructor if you think our classification should be revised.
Describe the limits of the range in the geographic range text box. Example -- Red bats are found from southern Alaska and Canada to the southern tip of South America. Don't list the countries in which they occur, but do give the limits of their distribution. If this is a migratory species, identify which parts of the range it occupies for which parts of the year.
Click on all geographic range checkboxes that apply to your animal. You will notice that there are checkboxes available for both the native range and introduced range of each species. The native range is where these animals occur naturally. The introduced range reflects where they are found currently that is outside of the native range, usually through the activities of humans. For example, house mice are native to western Eurasia but are now found worldwide as human commensals. You can click on the accompanying world map of geographic ranges to help you fill out the appropriate check boxes.
Remember to select the references that are relevant to this section from the list that appears below each text box, so that all appropriate citations will appear in that paragraph.
What types of habitats do these animals occupy? Be sure to describe the habitat preferences of this species in the text box. If there is information on the elevational (terrestrial) or depth (aquatic) ranges of your species, include that information in the appropriate field. Select all habitat checkboxes that apply to this species. At least one of the broad region categories should be selected (polar, temperate, or tropical) and at least one of the broad habitat type categories should be selected (terrestrial, saltwater or marine, or freshwater).
You should then be able to select a more specific type of habitat from the terrestrial, aquatic, or other categories. For example, two-toed sloths would have "tropical", "terrestrial", and "rainforest" selected.
A Description of Terrestrial and Aquatic Biomes is available to see a definition of each of the habitat keywords. If the species is migratory, describe all habitats that it regularly occupies.
Remember to select the references that are relevant to this section from the list that appears below each text box, so that all appropriate citations will appear in that paragraph.
Please note that this section will not appear for certain animal groups, such as mammals and birds, as this information does not vary within those groups.
Describe the development and life cycle of this species. How does it progress from zygote, through intermediate stages, and to the adult form? Does this involve metamorphosis? How is sex determined?
In the text box describe the particular developmental features of this species. There's no need, however, to describe a general developmental pattern if it applies to all animals in the larger group to which your species belongs. For instance, all birds develop in eggs, emerge from their egg, and progress through a growth period until they reach their adult size. Sex determination in all birds is determined by chromosome presence/absence.
Remember to select the references that are relevant to this section from the list that appears below each text box, so that all appropriate citations will appear in that paragraph.
Use the text box to describe this species. Describe its size, appearance, shape, color, and anything else that is notable. Are males and females alike (monomorphic) or different (dimorphic)? Has geographic or seasonal variation been reported? If there are described sub-species, how do the sub-species differ? How do young animals differ from adults? Are there polymorphisms (e.g. dark and light forms as in hawks and peppered moths, or color morphs as in some crayfish)? Be sure to include a description of the characteristics which distinguish this species from other, closely related, species. Include the kinds of measurements that are typically reported for the group to which your species belongs. For instance, in most amphibians and reptiles body length is reported as snout to vent length, in mammals length is typically reported as body length and tail length, separately.
Be sure to select all keywords that apply to this animal. Use the fields provided to include information on mass, length, and wingspan (if applicable). Be sure to select the correct units for those measurements. Enter the typical lower and typical higher values as they are reported in the literature (for example body length is from 210 to 300 mm). Only enter an average value if it is reported as an average in the literature (such as: average wingspan is 37.2 mm). Please also describe these measurements in the text box. If there is sexual dimorphism, or other sorts of polymorphisms, please enter the lowest and highest reported values for all animals in these fields, then report the specific ranges relevant to particular sexes or morphological types in the text.
In this section describe the mating system and mating behavior of this species. Include information on finding, attracting, and defending mates, and on how mating behaviors affect social structure. Try to be as complete as possible in finding and filling out this information. Select all appropriate checkboxes.
Use the text box to describe the reproductive cycle of this species. You need to be sure that you are reporting all of the important information relevant to reproduction. In the case of a mammal, this would include season of breeding, number of offspring per breeding season, gestation period, when weaning occurs, and age at sexual maturity. It might also include a description of any peculiarities of the system or anything that is notable or interesting. Examples might include descriptions of delayed implantation or fertilization or induced or spontaneous ovulation. There are many different aspects of reproduction that you might include; in general, we're looking for a complete but succinct summary of life history plus some interesting facts. Again, use the checkboxes as a guide to the kinds of information that should be in this text box. Breeding interval and breeding season field entries should take the form of complete sentences. For example: "Wood frogs breed once yearly," or "White-footed mice breed every 3 to 4 weeks during the warmer months and less frequently during winter. " Try to be as complete as possible in filling out this information and checking all keywords that apply to these animals.
Describe the extent and kind of parental investment found in this species. Include information on the duration of various forms of parental investment, including parental investment that occurs pre-fertilization, pre-hatching, or pre-independence. Describe the kinds of investment provided by parents (food, protection, resources, learning, etc.) and which parent makes this investment.
If the species you are writing about is hermaphroditic, then you should select both male and female parental investment where appropriate. If your source does not indicate which parent makes a particular kind of investment, then simply click on the checkbox for the parental investment category (for example: pre-hatching provisioning).
Describe also the kinds of parental care that occur between birth/hatching and weaning/fledgling (see pre-weaning/fledging keywords below) and between weaning/fledging and independence (see pre-independence keywords below). Include information on time to weaning, hatching, or fledging and duration of dependence on parents (most often longer than weaning, hatching, or fledging). learning, etc.). Check all appropriate keyword checkboxes.
Briefly describe what is known about the lifespan of this species in the wild and in captivity. You may wish to include information on what typically limits lifespan, such as tooth wear in elephants, if it is known. Include as much information as you can find on the minimum, maximum, and average lifespan in the appropriate fields and be sure to select the appropriate units. Sometimes data is presented as percent mortality per year, please present these data as well.
Use the text box to describe as fully as possible behavior in this species. Is this a solitary or social species? Does it move around or is it sessile? Are there any notable aspects of its behavior that you think distinguish it, such as the way it moves, what its activity patterns are, or how it acts with others of its species? If social, describe the social/breeding system. Are there social hierarchies? On what are they based? This is a very broad category, and you are welcome to mention any aspect of the animal's behavior that is interesting. Please remember to include behaviors specific to mating, communication, and predation in those text areas. Include information on home ranges and territory sizes if they are known. Select all keywords that apply to this species and be certain that you have described those behaviors in the text box.
Describe how this species communicates with others and perceives the environment. Which senses are developed and what are they used for? Are there forms of social communication? How do potential mates communicate? Describe important and notable ways of communication, such as how social rank is communicated among wild dogs or how bees convey information about food sources. Select all appropriate keywords relevant to modes of communication and to perception channels.
Use the text box to describe, in simple terms, what these animals eat. If there are special structures or adaptations for feeding, describe them. Try to use summarizing terms like "insectivore," "frugivore," "omnivore," etc., but also describe the foods used in more detail (including scientific names) if the information is available. List known foods that are eaten by these animals in the appropriate text box and be sure to select all keywords that apply to this species.
The first food habit list asks you to select the term(s) that describe the primary food habits of the species. So, for example, although some rodents may eat fruits and leaves on occasion, if they eat primarily seeds and grains the single term that best describes their primary food habits is "granivorous." Some animals may eat equal amounts of one or another kind of food, in that case you may select two terms that best describe their primary food habits. The second food habit list asks you to select allfood types that the species is known to eat. Please select all appropriate keywords, including all food types eaten and any applicable behaviors relevant to food habits.
Use the text box to describe any anti-predator adaptations found in this species, including behaviors, structures, color patterns, or life history modifications. Identify known predators of this species and provide details on differences in predators and anti-predator adaptations among different life stages of this species, if appropriate. List known predators by placing one predator name in the text box provided. Click on Add record to add another predator. Continue this process until all known predators are listed. Select all relevant keywords.
Include as much information as you can find on the role that these animals play in the ecosystems to which they belong. Use the text box to describe these roles and their impact on the community. Then check all keywords that apply to this species and list any host species (if your species is parasitic or commensal on another), mutualistic partners, and commensal species (if your species is a host to other commensals).
Often this kind of information is difficult to find labeled as an ecosystem role, but you can speculate to some extent based on available information. For instance, all animals are prey for their predators or act as predators, these are ecosystem roles.
Is this species important economically to humans? Does it provide food or shelter? Is it of interest to tourists, scientists, or farmers? Does it play an ecological role that helps or harms us? Are there other aspects of its biology that intersect our own? This also is a very broad category. The focus, however, should be on the effect of the species on us; how we affect it belongs in the Conservation section. Place the positive and negative impacts on humans separately, in their respective text boxes and be sure to check the boxes that are applicable to this species. Is it sometimes traded as a pet? Does it produce fertilizer or control pest populations? Please also suggest how humans benefit from the ecosystem functions of this species. If you cannot find information on its positive economic impact on humans then write "There are no known positive effects of <the species> on humans." in the text box.
Describe what is known about how this species adversely affects humans. Does it play an ecological role that harms us or directly impacts human health? If you cannot find information on negative impacts then please write: "There are no known adverse affects of <the species> on humans." in the text box. Select all keywords that are applicable to this species.
Indicate the status of your species on the IUCN list, CITES appendices, and the United States Endangered Species Act list. If your species is a bird indicate its status under the United States Migratory Bird Treaty Act. These lists are available here:
You should search these sites for the current status of your species, rather than relying on your other resources, which may be out of date. When searching for this species on the CITES or IUCN pages, use a search for the name of the genus rather than the species. This will ensure that you get information regarding your species and the other potential names under which it is known. In addition, the IUCN Specialist Groups page (http://www.iucn.org/themes/ssc/sgs/sg-intro.htm) has valuable and up-to-date information on conservation status and natural history of many animal species.
If your species has several subspecies that differ in conservation status, fill out all applicable checkboxes for recognized subspecies and explain the status of all subspecies in the text box. Address any known causes of vulnerable, threatened, or endangered status. What is being done to help the species or subspecies recover? Restrict your comments to the species you're writing about. Globally pessimistic statements, while perhaps accurate, don't belong here!
Include here anything else that you find interesting about this species. Examples might include taxonomic changes relevant to this animal (such as alternative classification schemes and other scientific names by which this species is known), scientific name etymology, fossil history, cultural or historical significance of this animal species, or adaptations not covered in other categories.
When you have completed your draft, go to the "state" tab and select the Submit to Instructor button. You must then click on the Apply button for the account to be submitted and available to your instructor for review. You can enter comments in the comment box, these will be visible to your instructor and to ADW editing staff. Once you have submitted your account you will not be able to edit it any further, unless your instructor returns it to you. Before submitting the account you must have reviewed the plagiarism statement and the copyright statement.
When your instructor feels it is ready for publication, s/he will submit the narrative to the ADW zookeeper, who will do any final editing and make a decision about publication. Your name and your instructor's name will appear on the account, so do the best job you can!
Once you have submitted it, you won't be allowed to work on your narrative again until (and unless) your instructor sends it back to you for review.
Talk to your fellow students and your instructor (professor or teaching assistant) first. If they are unable to guide you, use the link in the Help box on the upper left of the Workspaces page to contact ADW staff.
Thanks for being a part of this project!