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Strategies in taxonomy: research in a changing world. Report of an e-conference



This EPBRS e-conference on “Strategies for Taxonomy: Research in a Changing World”\ud focused on identifying the key research questions allowing taxonomy to address policy needs\ud in a better way and, vice versa, allowing policy makers to get responses from taxonomists on\ud specific subjects related to the use of taxonomic knowledge.\ud Taxonomy, as a collectively assembled ‘Body of Knowledge’ formally started with\ud the work of Linnaeus, is the most comprehensive and reliable source of information about\ud biodiversity today. This includes specimen collections, character descriptions, geographic\ud distributions, occurrence details, classification system(s), and links to associated information\ud in literature and other resources. This accumulated ‘Body of Knowledge’ is well structured\ud around the Linnaean system and is our baseline knowledge to monitor changes in\ud biodiversity.\ud Although there are few doubts that taxonomic information is essential for reliable\ud environmental science, applied users often complain about the inability to get adequate access\ud to taxonomic information to respond to -for instance- the biodiversity crisis. This ‘taxonomic\ud impediment’ is recognised within taxonomy by currently attempting to expand its capacity to\ud explore and accommodate more species and to improve the dissemination and use of\ud taxonomic information on the internet.\ud Due to these internal and external constraints, pushing taxonomy to advance its\ud working routines and support the applied use of taxonomic information, taxonomy stands, at\ud the moment, at a crossroads. Therefore it is critical for policy makers to make the right\ud decisions for the future of taxonomy, now. This should, for instance, balance not only the\ud emphasis stakeholders, researchers and society often place on new technologies and research\ud tools but also the maintenance of core taxonomic research respecting the often exceptional\ud level of expertise needed to explore and recognise species diversity.\ud Finding the right connection between taxonomists and policy makers is complicated\ud because of the different intermediate parties (e.g. data centres, agencies and stakeholders)\ud frequently obscuring a profound understanding of the relevance of taxonomy for biodiversity\ud assessments for policy makers, but also hampering a closer commitment of taxonomists to\ud fundamental questions on what information is needed (at what level and at what depth) for\ud policy makers to make the right decisions. I hope this e-conference has contributed to a better\ud understanding among decision makers and taxonomists of the relevant scientific priorities for\ud future strategic policy plans

Publisher: NERC/Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and BioStrat
Year: 2009
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