TAXALAB- The Race Rocks Taxonomy: A Project to establish a Digital Taxonomic File

This lab arose out of a need to fulfill a number of objectives it is presented here as an example of how a class can start a taxonomic index of plants and animals from a local ecosystem.

1. The IB Biology program in topic 4 Ecology has a reference to the traditional taxonomic approach in biology and the environmental systems syllabus has one in sec A 2.1.

2. In the Race Rocks Ecological Overview done in 1999, I cited major gaps in existing knowledge and a need for more research into the taxonomy of several groups of invertebrates and algae at Race Rocks.

3.The only really detailed taxonomic work that has been done so far at Race Rocks is that by Dr. Anita Brinckmann-Voss , and the digital herbarium by Ryan Murphy. This represents a small portion of the biodiversity of the archipelago.

4.Several years ago we started to use the process of having students build what could be called “digital legacies” which consist of information on our website which could be built upon by members of Biology and Environmental Systems classes and faculty from Lester Pearson College in the following years.

5. We now are accumulating an abundance of materials, in both video and still images that could be organized and linked according to a good taxonomic model.

6. A number of themes at Race Rocks, including animal behavior, biotic associations, ecological adaptations, ecosystem modelling and ecosystem restoration could be linked by the organisms that interact in this ecosystem.

7. Race Rocks is but a microcosm of the rest of the world, so an appreciation of a model developed here can be extrapolated to any ecosystem familiar to our students.

8. We must seek where possible to break down the rigid compartmentalization with which we view biology or environmental systems. This theme allows us to link in the various disciplines of the life sciences.

9. As an aspect of Active Citizenship in the International Baccalaureate program, we can use our skills to contribute to future education of our own students and distance education to those who may visit our web site, and help to reinforce the values of biodiversity in ecosystems.

10. We hope that this site can be used as a model for other schools and colleges for the development of a method of organizing the information available on a local ecosystem, whether it is a protected space or a regular ecosystem which deserves some level of stewardship from concerned members of the community. A similar Taxonomy can be part of an Adopt an Ecosystem Project by schools or colleges elsewhere.



  • a) Go to the currently suggested species pages, taxon2, taxon3, taxon4.
    Here you will find the name of the species we need to have done . Choose a species and indicate it to your teacher.
  • b) By clicking on the species link, you will go to the template that has been prepared for you so far.
  • c) In a text document, write about the species in terms of where it is found and how common it is at Race Rocks. You may ask Catrin, Laura, Chris, Garry or the Ecoguardians about any experience they may have had with this particular species on the islands or underwater. You may also spend time on weekends, project weeks to do more observations of the species, and you may even end up doing an extended essay involving the species.
  • d) Use the dichotomous key..see below..Include a section describing the biotic associations of that species if known. This enables us to make hyperlinks to other parts of the taxonomy files.
  • e) Link to other file locations on the web site which contain reference to or information about your organism. For example — in the video archives , extended essays and research projects page, or in the Christmas Bird count files. Also look up in the RaceRocks taxonomy any other species which have associations with your species, so that you may indicate the URL of that file,
  • f) Include a listing of further information needed on the organism, you may even be able to suggest ideas for further investigation or research.
  • g) Include proper referencing of all sources, including your source of classification.
  • h) Other software that is available for use if you are interested in producing photos, audio or videos : Adobe Photoshop, Photo and Slide-Scanning Software, iMovie and the associated QuickTime compression software. You would need to spend some time out of class getting up to speed on these tools.
  • i) Be sure to add your name and year in the space at the bottom.
  • j) the last thing you have to do is use the Spell Check!!
  • k) when you have the text completed and a separate listing of the taxonomic categories, send the document to your teacher. They will forward it to the students of the Race Rocks activity who will help to complete the installation of your digital archive.

2. If you go to Race Rocks

  • a) Some of you will be able to see your organism first hand while in a field lab. If you do, any photos or video you may get could be added to the taxonomy page later. Do not use images that have not been obtained from specimens at Race Rocks.
  • It will take a few weeks to get your finished product posted. When it is completed and on the web, print out a copy to be included in your practical work portfolio.



Link To The Three Domains of Life ( Berkeley)
Link to System Naturae
This is the beginning reference:
Link to MBARI’s Site -for algae classification
THE TREE of LIFE Web Project
The Walla Walla College Marine Station ( Rosario)
Key to Invertebrates:

See the dichotomous key at:
Also we have a Race Rocks Dichotomous key at:

ADW: Animal Classification Lichens of North America