History: The J.R.S. Biodiversity Foundation was created in January 2004 when the nonprofit publishing company, BIOSIS was sold to Thomson Scientific. The proceeds from that sale were applied to fund an endowment and create a new grant-making foundation.
Name: The Board of Directors selected as the organization’s new name the: J.R.S. Biodiversity Foundation. This reflects both the historic legacy of the Foundation and its future grant-making domain. The initials J.R.S. stand for the name of one of the founders of BIOSIS. Biodiversity indicates the new funding interests that the Foundation chose for itself.
Mission: The Foundation defined a mission within the field of biodiversity:
To enhance knowledge and promote the understanding of biological diversity for the benefit and sustainability of life on earth.
Scope: To further advance the Foundation’s mission a scope was developed as:
Interdisciplinary activities primarily carried out via collaborations in developing countries and economies in transition. The Foundation Board of Trustees has expressed a particular interest in focusing its grant-making in Africa.
Strategic Interest: Within those bounds a considered course has been chosen to:
Advance projects, or parts of biodiversity projects that focus on: (1) collecting data, (2) aggregating, synthesizing, publishing data, and making it more widely available to potential end users, and (3) interpreting and gaining insight from data to inform policy-makers.
When the Foundation refers to biodiversity it does so within the context of the meaning set by The Convention on Biological Diversity where at the Rio de Janeiro Conference in June 1992 it defined biological diversity as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, among other things, terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.”
When the Foundation refers to biodiversity informatics it does so based on a definition taken in essence from Dr. Walter Berendsohn.
Biodiversity informatics is the application of information technology (IT) tools and approaches to biodiversity information, principally at the organismic level. It thus deals with information capture, storage provision, retrieval, and analysis, focused on individual organisms, populations, and species, and their interactions. It covers information generated by the fields of systematics, evolutionary biology, population biology, and ecology, as well as more applied fields such as conservation biology and ecological management.