The All Birds Barcoding Initiative (ABBI) aims to establish a public archive of DNA barcodes for the approximately 10,000 species of world birds. Species limits are better understood in birds than in any other large group of animals, making birds an ideal group for exploring the practical efficacy and scientific insights provided by large-scale, standardized genetic analysis.
ABBI held its inaugural meeting at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology in September 2005, attended by 48 participants from 23 countries. ABBI researchers have identified components to help move the project forward (see also ABBI Inaugural Workshop Report, ABBI Needs and Resources Statement):
- List of target species. To enable tracking progress and comparing results, ABBI researchers selected The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, Sixth edition as a reference list. A draft ABBI checklist (Excel, 6 MB) including most author names and ITIS numbers and an "ABBI Name Lookup" (Excel, 8 MB) file for converting synonyms, alternate spellings, and flagging extinct species are available for download.
- Specimens. A compilation of avian tissue collections prepared for ABBI shows approximately 240,000 specimens representing 6,600 species. Tissue collections appear to be a lightly utilized resource, as GenBank has only about 8,500 avian cytochrome b sequences (prior to DNA barcode initiative, cytochrome b has been the most commonly sequenced locus for birds and other vertebrates) representing about 2,800 bird species.
- Organization by biogeographic region, with Regional Working Group (RWG) Chairs.
- Sampling within species. Sampling of species across their ranges creates a reliable, informative database. A minimum of 5 specimens per species is targeted.
- Permits. RWG chairs will identify permit issues within their regions and organize collecting and analytic efforts accordingly.
- Sequencing. To minimize costs, sequencing will be steered to high volume facilities where possible.
- Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) as software platform. BOLD provides a "home" for ABBI researchers for assembling, integrating, tracking, and analyzing data. There is general agreement to share access to provisional data among project managers.
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