Image by Alex Guillaume

The basics

TDWG is an open, bottom-up organization. Anyone can become a member, individuals as well as institutions (including government agencies, non-governmental organizations, programs, and projects). Everything TDWG produces comes from the expertise, collaboration, and support of its members - people and organizations who create, manage, integrate, and analyze biodiversity information. Most individual members are either professional biologists or information scientists, but all have a passion for living things. If your work involves large quantities of biodiversity information, then you might recognize that information management is one of your challenges. TDWG is a good place to learn about the synthetic discipline of biodiversity informatics. Get involved, share your experiences, and collaborate with your peers to build future solutions.

TDWG’s mission, structure, membership, and governance are established in its Constitution. Members elect officers to an Executive Committee, which then manages the organization. Additional on-going support is provided by Functional Subcommittees (i.e., standing committees), whose leaders are also elected by members and serve ex-officio on the Executive Committee.

TDWG standards are developed by interest groups. The process for establishing interest groups and ratifying standards is described in the TDWG Process. More recently, TDWG has adopted another specification to guide the incremental maintenance of vocabulary standards.

TDWG is incorporated in California and has formal 501(c)(3) non-profit status in the United States. TDWG is also registered as a “stichting” (foundation) in the Netherlands, giving it non-profit status in the European Union. See formal registration documents and filings here.

The following resources will help you learn about TDWG, stay aware of developments, and participate in the advancement of biodiversity information science.



This website should be the most concise introduction to TDWG, as well as a comprehensive directory to activities and resources. Please give feedback and help us maintain the content here (see Website FAQ).


Subscribe to TDWG announcements to receive our most significant news. This mailing list is for announcements only, not discussion, so the volume is low. (ca. 1,000 subscribers.)


TDWG is using GitHub as its primary collaboration platform. It combines the functions of online discussion, collaborative document writing, and code repository. The content for all interest groups and standards is publicly available (no account needed to view), but to participate effectively you should create a user account on GitHub. With a user account you can watch relevant repositories and ultimately participate in developing guidelines or standards in that area. “Watching” a repository is effectively subscribing to the online discussion of issues (problems and tasks) in that subject area.

If you are new to GitHub: tutorial on GitHub using TDWG examples (by Peter Desmet, 2016)


TDWG has a workspace in Slack. Several committees and interest/working groups are using Slack for timely communication and collaboration. Slack is particularly good for quick, real-time communication between colleagues (i.e., chat or voice calls between members of a team), but please note that discussions in Slack are not publicly accessible (unlike discussion of “issues” on GitHub). To be added to the TDWG workplace on Slack, request an invitation from the Secretariat.

Conference proceedings

From 2006 to 2016, TDWG published abstracts of contributions to the annual conference (presentations, posters, demonstrations) in conference proceedings (available on each conference page). Presentation files (PPT or PDF) are available for many oral presentations and posters since 2008. Recordings are available for most presentations since 2015. From 2017 going forward, our conference proceedings (abstracts of contributions) are published in our journal (below) and from 2020 most are linked to media (slides and video) from the conference.

Biodiversity Information Science and Standards (BISS)

In 2017, TDWG engaged Pensoft, an academic publishing company specializing in open-access semantic publishing, to publish our annual Proceedings, as well as descriptions of new TDWG standards and independently contributed full-length papers in a dedicated journal Biodiversity Information Science and Standards (BISS).

Participate and contribute

Participation is the key driver of progress in TDWG. You do not have to be a member to participate. Begin by reading and getting oriented, then participate in our community of interest and task groups by sharing your opinions and ideas during meetings (virtual or in-person) or as part of GitHub discussions. Perhaps sooner than you expected, you might become a leader in TDWG. Consider standing for election to the Executive Committee, stepping up to lead an interest group or task group, or contributing to the work of a subcommittee.


TDWG’s annual conferences are usually held in late September or in October and occupy a full work week (Mon-Fri). Conference venues rotate among the continents something like “Europe, North America, and other”, where “other” can be Africa, Asia, Australia/Oceania, or Latin America. Virtual conferences may replace traditional conference venues. Conferences typically draw between 150 and 225 participants.