Over a period of 10 years, scientists from a coalition of international institutions surveyed the biota of the Gaoligong mountains in western Yunnan, China. Focal taxa included selected plants, vertebrates, and arthropods. The study area lies at the heart of one of the world's biodiversity hotspots and is home to biomes ranging from subtropical forest to tundra. In this special issue, we report on the results of that survey for micro-orbweaving spiders, cryptic animals mostly less than 1 mm long that build delicate, geometric webs. All told, over 1,000 adult micro-orbweavers were collected and sorted to three dozen species, all new to science. The enormous scale of the world's biodiversity means that science needs data structures to facilitate organization, aggregation, and instant sharing of data.
This publication contributes to major aggregators and indexers of electronic biodiversity data including ZooBank, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), Morphbank, and the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), supplementing the traditional paper mode. Typical of publications in taxonomy, this paper is composed of several components including the primary biodiversity data (specimen, locality, and related information), media (e.g., photographs and drawings), text elements (e.g., species descriptions), and nomenclature (e.g., new taxonomic names). Once these elements are parsed and absorbed by community databases, they can be disseminated, indexed, and recombined in myriad ways inconceivable for static paper publications. The barely imagined potential of these maturing digital resources makes the early 21st century a very exciting historical moment in taxonomy.