Accelerating the Pace of Scientific Discovery.

The Biodiversity Synthesis Group is part of the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), an international project to develop a webpage for every known species on Earth, freely accessible to all. Based at the Biodiversity Synthesis Center (BioSynC) at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, we are dedicated to advancing biodiversity science and the core EOL mission through our diverse meetings, workshops, research programs, and outreach.

There are currently no upcoming meetings scheduled. We welcome Synthesis Meeting proposals at any time, but set 3 target dates for review each year: 1 March, 1 July, and 1 November. You can find out how to propose a meeting here.

In Focus

Since December 2007, BioSynC has hosted over 40 synthesis meetings with over 1,000 participants from 45 countries on topcis ranging from Tree Visualization to Coral Evolution to Integrating Ontologies. These synthesis meetings have resulted in many new collaborations, projects, grant and grant proposals, and publications all advancing biodiversity science.

Here are some recent updates from our past synthesis meetings. To include your news and updates please complete our short Synthesis Meeting Report form.

  • Megatree Publication: George Weiblen and his colleagues recently published on methods for inferring community phylogeny from work that emerged from the April, 2008 Megatree: Mega-Phylogeny Assembly by Literature-Mining and Grafting synthesis meeting.
  • Coral Meeting Publications: Over 18 articles that resulted from collaborative research from the June 2009 Systematics and evolution of scleractinian corals synthesis meeting have been published!
  • Parmeliaceae Life Desks: After his participation in the January, 2012 Parmeliaceae: Towards a worldwide checklist and a phylogenetic classification of the largest family of lichen-forming fungi synthesis meeting, Adriano Spielmann has created two LifeDesks: and
  • Parmeliaceae Publication: Matthew Nelsen, who participated in the May, 2010 Parmeliaceae: Improving our understanding of taxonomy, classification and biogeography of the largest family of lichen-forming fungi synthesis meeting recently published a paper, which was part of a special issue of the Lichenologist which Thorsten Lumbsch organized.
  • BHL Africa Meeting: From June 14-15, 2012, over 25 librarians, scientists and information technology managers came together at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town, to discuss the possibilities for developing a Biodiversity Heritage Library node in Africa. This organization and planning meeting was funded by the JRS Biodiversity Foundation and was a direct follow up to the initial JRS funded BHL Africa meeting that was held in conjunction with the Life and Literature meeting in November 2011.
  • Integrating Ontologies News: Andrew R Deans and his colleagues have recently published two papers which resulted from their October 2010 Integrating ontologies with biodiversity research, have carried many of the ideas that emerged from their synthesis meeting into the Phenotype RCN, and have submitted several grants from the meeting.
  • Species Distributions Grants and Publications: Walter Jetz and his colleagues were awarded an NSF DBI grant, Map of Life: An infrastructure for integrating global species distribution knowledge, that was facilitated from their first Species Distributions synthesis meeting in May 2009. This work continued during their second Species Distributions synthesis meeting, Integrating and refining the global knowledge base of species distributions; data, tools, applications, in July 2010, and resulted in a recent TREE publication.
  • Cybertaxonomy Manuscript: Jeremy Miller and his colleagues have prepared a manuscript from work accomplished during the 2011 From Taxonomic Literature to Cybertaxonomic Content synthesis meeting. The manuscript is currently going through a pre-submission inquiry with PLoS Computational Biology.
  • Spineless: status and trends of the world's invertebrates: Ben Collen and his colleagues are just putting the finishing touches to a report called 'Spineless: status and trends of the world's invertebrates'. This report will be launched at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Korea this September. The 2009 Freshwater species conservation: Assessing the status of North American crayfish and the 2011 Assessing the Status of Cone Snails synthesis meetings supported many of the crayfish and cone snail assessments which will feature in part of the report.
  • New Hackathons from Evolutionary TreeViz Meeting: Chacha Sikes has used her experience from the Evolutionary Tree Visualization synthesis meeting held in May, 2009 to develop and create several new hackathon projects, founded a hackathon format for design,, which is now run by the Noun Project, is planning one of the first environmental hackathons in the spring for the Bay Area, and is also part of a group that is creating a machine readable open list of fresh and perishable foods,
  • IUCN Red List Publications from Conus Meeting: The IUCN Red List Unit published 84 species from the assessments made during the Assessing the Status of Cone Snails synthesis meeting held in October, 2011. These species are all from the Eastern Atlantic and contain by far the highest percentage of threatened species including 3 classified as critically endangered, 11 endangered and 13 vulnerable. Meeting organizer, Howard Peters, is now working on consistency checks for the remaining 540 species, which will be sent to the IUCN Red List Unit.

What's New

The second of two BioSynC meetings relating to an integrative systematic study of Frullania, a group of early land plants in the liverwort genus, was held over three days from November 28-30. Liverworts (Marchantiophyta) are pivotal in our...
Assistant Director of BioSynC, Rick Ree, traveled to the University of Tennessee from September 27-29 to give an invited seminar in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology on his research in the flowering plant genus Pedicularis (lousewort and...
Audrey Aronowsky, Beth Sanzenbacher (both BioSynC), Johanna Thompson (Field Museum, Education), and Krystal Villanosa (Northwestern University) have recently published two papers in the eBook from the 2012, 2nd Global Conference on Experiential...