Zoologist McCormack has been the lead researcher contributing to the Cook Islands Biodiversity and Ethnobiology Database (CIBED) since his arrival in the Cook Islands in 1980.
He is set to travel to England for three months to work with Michael D. Fischer, who is a professor of Anthropological Sciences at the University of Kent, to work on an updated version of the online database as part of the Cook Islands Natural Heritage Project.
McCormack said he has spent almost a year and a half working with Fischer on restructuring the database.
The database currently contains around 4500 recorded plant, animal and ocean species in the Cook Islands.
However, he says: “There are thousands of species that still need to be recorded and added to the database.”
He said UNESCO funded an evaluation of the old database and recommended it be updated.
He added that the project to redesign the database would cost $80,000 Fisher volunteered himself and another person with a doctorate in computing to help him.
The restructured database can provide local names of species on the 15 islands of the country and a description of how common it is.
The database is easy to use, organised and searchable with biological categories of plants, invertebrates and vertebrates.
It will be a valuable resource for students and researchers.
“It is all geared around people who are interested in learning,” said McCormack.
The public can check out the database that is currently being worked on at cookislands.pacificbiodiversity.com