Welcome to ChEssBase

Biodiversity and biogeography of species from deep-water chemosynthetic ecosystems

What is ChEssBase?

ChEssBase is a dynamic relational database available online since December 2004. The aim of ChEssBase is to provide taxonomical, biological, ecological and distributional data of all species described from deep-water chemosynthetic ecosystems, as well as bibliography and information on the habitats. These habitats include hydrothermal vents, cold seeps, whale falls, sunken wood and areas of minimum oxygen that intersect with the continental margin or seamounts. For more information on these ecosystems and their fauna, please visit the ChEss web site:

Since the discovery of hydrothermal vents in 1977 and of cold seep communities in 1984, over 500 species from vents and over 200 species from seeps have been described (Van Dover et al., 2002. Science 295: 1253-1257). The discocery of chemosynthetically fuelled communities on benthic OMZs and large organic falls to the deep-sea such as whales and wood have increased the number of habitats and fauna for investigation. New species are continuously being discovered and described from sampling programmes around the globe and therefore ChEssBase is in active development and new data are being entered periodically. Currently, ChEssBase includes data on 1740 species from 193 chemosynthetic sites around the globe. These data contain information (when available) on the taxonomy, diagnosis, trophic level, reproduction, endemicity and habitat types and distribution. There are now 1880 papers in our reference database.

The first version of ChEssBase has been online since December 2004 and is now (autumn 2006) being reviewed and edited. The current database does not include data on specific samples from specific cruises and images of species and sites are still not available. This will be the next step forward for ChEssBase, when we hope to include information on sample collections, cruise information, scientific contacts and images of both species and habitats.

Fusion with the InterRidge biological database ir_logo

In 1997, InterRidge decided to create a web-based biological database to facilitate access to information on existing samples from hydrothermal vents. The database was created and freely available on the IR web site. However, the 3-year rotation system of the IR office and lack of funding and expertise created a challange to maintain and updated the database. This and the effort to avoid duplication and maximise resources led, in January 2004, to the of creating a single source of information for biological data from chemosynthetic ecosystems by merging the IR biological database with ChEssBase.

In spring-summer 2005, María Blanco (NOC, UK) undertook the fusion of the two databases, resulting in the second version of ChEssBase, which includes the IR biological data and new search and download options. This second version of ChEssBase is available online since August 2005.

For further information download the article published in InterRidge News Vol. 14 pdf link

Integration with OBIS

obis logo

The Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) is the information component of the Census of Marine Life. OBIS is a web-based dynamic provider of global geo-referenced information on marine species in four dimensions (the three dimensions of space plus time). OBIS Data Sources are databases made available through OBIS. In August 2005, Marķa Blanco has started teh integration of ChEssBase with OBIS.

ChEssBase has been available through OBIS since October 2005.

Database design

ChEssBase is supported by a species-based relational database in MySQL.
Download the database structure of ChEssBase version 2: pdf link

The database design is provided here in hope that it might be useful to data providers, database users and other projects considering creating similar databases. The database includes 3 major components: 1- taxonomy (from kingdom to subspecies), 2- distribution (from site to major geographic area) and 3- samples (including sample, cruise and institution information). All data in ChEssBase has been collected from the published litterature which is available in the reference table.

Data providers

ChEssBase is regulartly updated with new information available in the literrature. In order to quickly obtain accurate new data and help maintain the database up to date, we would be very grateful if you could send us any new publications with data relevant to ChEssBase, which we would add to the database, together with the relevant references.

Also, we are in the process to build an image gallery. If you have any photos of specimens (in situ and or preserved) and sites, we would be very grateful if you could contac us.

If you use the database, we would be grateful to receive your comments and suggestions, which we will use to improve the database.

Send your new publications, sample data, photos and suggestions to: Dr Eva Ramirez-Llodra.

The team

ChEssBase was first design and built in MS Access by Eva Ramirez-Llodra (NOC, UK).The database was then transfered to MySQL by María Blanco (NOC, UK) and is now maintained and updated in MySQL/PHP. For any further information, feedback, comments or new data, please e-mail Eva Ramirez-Llodra.

The ChEssBase interface and search facility were designed by María Blanco and Aida Arcas, Madrid, Spain. ChEssBase is based in the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (UK). Sally Hall and Maria Baker have been conducting the current editing process.

The ChEss project is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation within the Census of Marine Life initiative (CoML).

From June 2007 Daniel Perry joined the editing process to improve upon the interface and search capabilities of ChEssBase.