At the very end of the section INSECTA APTERA in the 10th edition of Systema Naturae, Linneaus (1758: 619) introduced the genus Julus: ‘Pedes numerosi, duplo utrinque plures, quam corporis segmenta.’ Seven species were listed, two each from Asia, India, and Europe and one from America.
Since then, the number of described millipede species has surpassed 12,000, making the Diplopoda the most species-rich class in the arthropod subphylum Myriapoda. The Myriapoda also contain the classes Chilopoda, Symphyla and Pauropoda. For the Chilopoda, or centipedes, a global species catalog is available, listing about 3,300 species and over 700 subspecies. Symphylans and pauropods, also called the dwarf myriapods, contain significantly fewer species, 200 and 600 species, respectively. The symphylans and pauropods are have recently been included in MilliBase.
MilliBase is a global taxonomic database, managed by a group of diplopod experts that aims to capture all described millipede, pauropod and symphylan species with the associated literature, the authorities and original descriptions of species, genera and all units of higher classification. Generic synonyms have largely been added to the database, species-level synonymies are under development. MilliBase also strives to add secondary citations from the taxonomic and systematic literature for all taxa, as well as important ecological and physiological works focusing on specific diplopod models. Whenever possible, we will attempt to link literature citations to freely available online sources, such as those on Biodiversity Heritage Library. It is the goal of the taxonomic editors to continuously update and improve the database to promote all forms of current and future millipede research and to support an active and vibrant global millipede research community.
MilliBase integrates/combines two, originally independent databasing projects: Jörg Spelda’s extensive SysMyr and Catalog of Life records and Petra Sierwald’s database, derived from H. W. Brölemann’s (1860-1933) ‘Iconography.’
SysMyr started as a collection of species names (checklist of myriapod species) in 1990, with associated taxonomic literature being added to a relational database. Several programs and initiatives in Germany supported the expansion and development of SysMyr database structure and its modules: German BIOLOG database development program, the GBIF program of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, umbrella project ID: 01LI0205, Species 2000, and the 4D4Life project.
An initiative to unite existing databases of myriapod literature by German colleagues provided the literature citations for SysMyr. With the goal to generate a complete myriapod bibliography Jörg Spelda, Jörg Rosenberg and Karin Voigtländer cooperated in 2003 under the project name “GerMyLit”. Since 2005 Hans Reip acts as project manager; he merged first the databases of Jörg Spelda and Norman Lindner with his own. MyriaLit serves as literature source for SysMyr and Millibase.
Brölemann’s (1860-1933) illustrated species level card catalog, the ‘Iconographie’ was maintained in the Myriapod collection at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris. In 2000, curatorial staff at the MNHN kindly gave Dr. S.I. Golovatch permission to transfer a copy of the index card catalog to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Long-time and dedicated volunteer Ms E. Simmons at the Field Museum initially typed the names into Excel spreadsheets, other volunteers entered genus-level data and the initial set of literature citation from Dr. Jeekel’s Nomenclator generum et familiarum diplopodorum (1971). The spreadsheet data were then transferred into an Access database, largely developed by Amber Billey, who also checked and entered the vast majority of the literature information containing the original descriptions for all millipede species in the database. During the past few years various collaborations resulted in species lists and catalogs, e.g., with P. Stoev, P. Marek and A.D. Nguyen. Ms Simmons continued to add species data to the Access database.
In 2009, at a Diplopoda workshop at the Zoologische Staatssammlung in Munich, Petra and Jörg began collaboration towards a combined, comprehensive world-wide taxonomic catalog of the class Diplopoda that was to be served freely online. In 2016, the data management team at the Flanders Marine Institute – VLIZ, Oostende, Belgium - migrated the data from Petra’s Access database to the Aphia (WoRMS) platform. WoRMS already had a nucleus of myriapod species in its database: the myriapods occurring in the littoral zone, initiated and managed by Anthony D. Barber. In 2017, the records from Jörg’s SysMyr database were transferred to the Aphia platform and the two datasets were merged.
MilliBase’s foundation is a body of catalog works and online resources, assembled by some of the foremost scholars of Diplopodology. Without such catalogs, updates and online resources, MilliBase could not have been realized. The data contained in the works cited below should all already reside in MilliBase or will be added in the very near future.Chamberlin, R.V.; Hoffman, R. L. (1958) Checklist of the millipeds of North America. United States National Museum, Bulletin 212: 1-236.
The importance of these online resources cannot be overemphasized. We are extremely grateful for the continuous support these resources are providing for millipede research and for generating MilliBase.
The Fellegship of the Rings (2020 onwards): Myriatrix. Available from: http://myriatrix.myspecies.info. Accessed since 2021 to correct and import new taxon names.
Bandaras, Melinda (Scientific Illustrator of Magpie Studio) designed the millipede logo graphics on the MilliBase Portal, depicting an ‘Essence of Millipedes’
BIOLOG team: Jörg Spelda gratefully acknowledges the SysMyr database design support by members of the BIOLOG project; especially: Ludwig Beck, Christoph Häuser, Norbert Hirneisen, Joachim Holstein, Hubert Höfer, Franz Horak, Alexander Kroupa, Christian Köppel and Klaus Riede.
Billey, Amber (Metadata Librarian, Columbia University Libraries): as a research assistant searched, assembled and catalogued most of the species-level literature from Field Museum libraries between 2004 and 2007. She made major improvements to the MilliBase database in organizing the multitude of data and data types. Her tenacity is greatly appreciated.
Diversity Workbench developer team: thanks are due to developers of the Diversity Workbench for numerous helpful SysMyr design suggestions; especially: Gregor Hagedorn, Anton Link, Dagmar Triebel, Tanja Weibulat and Markus Weiss.
Field Museum’s library staff: over the last 15 years Field Museum’s library staff has generously and patiently supported the work on MilliBase, made the library accessible to me and the assistants, helped find obscure titles, located temporarily misplaced volumes, helped in online searches, and fulfilled hundreds of InterLibraryLoan requests. Without Field Museum’s library with its excellent collections, MilliBase would have just a fraction of the literature content.
GBIF Germany, node Evertebrates II: colleagues at the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology in Munich and the central administration of the Bavarian Natural History Collections supported the work on Jörg’s SysMyr database since 2003; especially: Roland Melzer, Gerhard Haszprunar (director Zoologische Staatssammlung Munchen), Maria Luise Kaim, Eva Natzer, Marc Ritzerfeld, Stefan Schmidt.
Golovatch, S. I., (Institute for Problems of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences) organized a complete copy of the ‘Iconographie’ from the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle (MNHN) in Paris and made it available to the Field Museum in Chicago. This was the starting point of MilliBase.
Jones, Janeen (assistant collection manager in Invertebrates at the Field Museum): continuously and graciously (with great patience) gave her expertise and advice for many years during the building phase of the Access database of MilliBase
Kraus, Otto (University of Hamburg, Germany): I, Petra Sierwald, dedicate my efforts on MilliBase to Professor Dr. Otto Kraus, Professor Emeritus at the University of Hamburg, my Alma Mater, for his steadfast support to basic biological research in arthropods and to diplopod and arachnid taxonomy and systematics in particular. While I was working on my Ph.D. thesis on spiders under his guidance at Hamburg University in 1982-1985, he mentioned – once or twice: ... the really interesting arthropods on this planet are the Diplopoda... Eventually, I listened.
Mauries, J.-M. (Muséum national d'histoire naturelle (MNHN) Paris, Curator emeritus): kindly gave permission to transfer a copy of the ‘Iconographie’ to the Field Museum in Chicago, and thus facilitated the development of MilliBase.
Platnick, N. I. (American Museum of Natural History, Curator emeritus): with the world wide spider catalog Norman set the example after which MilliBase is built
Shear, W. A. (Hampden-Sydney College, Professor emeritus): Bill helped launch the first and subsequent National Science Foundation grants that provided funding to generate MilliBase, among other major research activities.
Shelley R. M. (North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Curator emeritus): compiles the data for nomenclator II and graciously initiated and supported the production of the nomenclator II, which provided an important foundation for MilliBase.
Simmons, Elizabeth (Field Museum, volunteer): is ultimately responsible for MilliBase. She transferred the data from the ‘Iconographie’ sheets to an Excel spreadsheet (and the rest is history...). To this day she continues to support MilliBase by adding new data and literature every week.
Species 2000 team: the SysMyr database development benefitted greatly from support by the 4D4Life project. Special acknowledgements are due to late Frank Bisby, Yuri Roskov and Luvie Paglinawan
WoRMS data management team (Flanders Marine Institute- VLIZ, Oostende, Belgium): The diplopod research community is immensely grateful to the dedicated data management team at the Flanders Marine Institute. Without their ongoing support, great expertise and dedication, bringing MilliBase online would not be possible at all.
MilliBase is made possible by funding from the National Science Foundation, in part by NSF DEB 97-12438 (PEET) to P. Sierwald & W.A. Shear, NSF DEB 05-29715 (PEET) to P. Sierwald, J.E. Bond & W.A. Shear, NSF DEB 12-56150 to J.E. Bond, P. Sierwald & W.A. Shear, and NSF EF-Digitization 14-02667 to P. Sierwald & R. Bieler. The initial development of MilliBase was supported by a grant of Field Museum’s BioSynCenter, with a meeting held at the Zoologische Staatssammlung in Munich (March 2009).
The MilliBase initiative is supported by LifeWatch, which is part of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) and can be seen as a virtual laboratory for biodiversity and ecosystem research.