Objective: This site aims to provide an authoritative guide to the biodiversity and taxonomy of coccolithophores - a beautiful group of microscopic planktonic algae with an abundant fossil record and a key role in the global carbon cycle. It is both a working tool for specialists and an accessible reference source for anyone else looking for information on any coccolithophores.
What's on the site:
The main sections of the site, as accessed from the menu bar, are:
Organisation: On higher taxon pages there is an automatically-generated table, this displays for each daughter taxon (a) representative images, (b) the diagnosis, and (c) a list of grand-daughter taxa. This is a novel approach to arranging taxonomic websites but we consider it preferable to any alternatives we have seen.
Geological search: A special feature of the site is that the taxa from a selected geological time period can be highlighted - via the Time Control page (Tools Menu). For example if the time period 10 to 20 million years ago is selected then taxa from this time period appear at the top of lists and are coloured blue while taxa outside this time period appear at the bottom of lists and are coloured olive green. The timescale underpinning the system is GTS2012, courtesy of Prof. James Ogg. All stratigraphic data on the site is stored in primary stratigraphic units (e.g. Albian, or Zone NN12) and so correlations to the timescale can be updated by changing a single lookup table.
In 2011 the project was awarded a substantial grant from the Knowledge Exchange programme of the UK Natural Environment Research Council. This expansion project coincided with a major redevelopment of the Scratchpads system. The new system proved incompatible with our revised objectives and so a new, simpler, software base was written for the project, by Jeremy Young. The revised system - Nannotax3 was launched in September 2013 at the International Nannoplankton Association conference in Washington DC. It has been continuously updated since then.
In 2015 we were awarded an Innovations Grant by the UK Natural Environment Research Council to develop a parallel website dealing with planktonic foraminifera - pforams@mikrotax using the nannotax system and content from the earlier NSF Chronos project. This project also involves Prof Bridget Wade at UCL and Brian Huber at the Smithsonian. This project has allowed major development of the functionality of the system, icluding advances search, range chart plotting and improvement of the web-interfaces for editors. The two sites are now co-hosted on the mikrotax domain.
Usage: Over the six months June - November 2014 the site had 4652 users each visiting on average for 5 sessions / slightly over an hour (Google Analytics data), with a total of 270,066 pageviews. This is a high level of use for a specialist website.
Update: Over the six months June - November 2015 the site had 9318 users each visiting on average for 3.8 sessions / 47 minutes (Google Analytics data), with a total of 380,676 pageviews. So usage has again increased significantly over the past year, with double the number of users and only a slight decrease in the average intensity of use.
Update: Over the six months June - November 2017 the site had 7302 users each visiting on average for 4.4 sessions / just over an hour (Google Analytics data), with a total of 351,548 pageviews. So usage has stabilised, but a remarkably high level. This supports our anecdotal evidence that the site is now used routinely by most people studying or using nannoplankton.
Commenting is possible on all taxon pages - this is intended for discussion of taxa. We would also be very interested in any comments, suggestions, or corrections, from any users on the site itself- please use the forum page for this - or just drop us an email.
We have been helped by many people, societies and funding bodies in setting up Nannotax. Here is some formal acknowledgement of this. Nonetheless, the content of the site is our responsibility, these organisations have not vetted it and do not necessarily endorse all aspects of it.