Systema Naturae 250 - The Linnaean Ark: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Systema Naturae 250 - The Linnaean Ark

1st Edition

Edited by Andrew Polaszek

CRC Press

300 pages | 15 Color Illus. | 48 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781420095012
pub: 2010-02-26
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429092916
pub: 2010-02-26
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The advent of relational databasing and data storage capacity, coupled with revolutionary advances in molecular sequencing technology and specimen imaging, have led to a taxonomic renaissance. Systema Naturae 250 - The Linnaean Ark maps the origins of this renaissance, beginning with Linnaeus, through his "apostles", via the great unsung hero Charles Davies Sherbon — arguably the father of biodiversity informatics — up to the present day with the Planetary Biodiversity Inventories and into the future with the Encyclopedia of Life and web-based taxonomy.

The book provides scientific, historical, and cultural documentation of the evolution of taxonomy and the successful adaptation of the Linnaean nomenclature system to that evolution. It underscores the importance of taxonomic accuracy, not only for the classification of living organisms, but for a more complete understanding of the living world and its biodiversity. The book also examines the role of technologies such as DNA sequencing, specimen imaging, and electronic data storage.

A celebration of 250 years of the scientific naming of animals, Systema Naturae 250 - The Linnaean Ark records and explores the history of zoological nomenclature and taxonomy, detailing current and future activity in these fields. Descriptive taxonomy has been in decline, despite the fact that the classification of organisms through taxonomic studies provides the foundation of our understanding of life forms. Packed with illustrations and tables, this book establishes a vision for the future of descriptive taxonomy and marks the beginning of a period of rapid growth of taxonomic knowledge.


The 18 chalptcrs cover just about every subject that could be subsumed under this title, from speculations about Linnaeus' childhood to problems with computerizing the names of all the world's plants and animals. The lengthiest chapter, 54 pages, was authored by B. Dayrat; it is a history of zoological nomenclature, written in a most engaging style. It may be old stuff to zoologists, but every botanist with an interest in nomenclature will want to read it.

—Neil A. Harriman, Biology Department, Wisconsin-Oshkosh University, in Plant Science Bulletin 57( I) 2011

Summing Up: Essential. Active biological collections serving upper-division undergraduates through researchers/faculty.

—E. Delson, CUNY Herbert H. Lehman College, in CHOICE, April 2011

Overall, the smorgasbord of Systema Naturae 250 is a fitting tribute to the past 250 years of zoological nomenclature. This book justly celebrates the enormous accomplishments of the taxonomic community in cataloging almost 1.5 million animal species, and a method of scientific inquiry that has endured for more than a quarter of a millennium. This is illustrated in the book’s final chapter, in which Fredrik Ronquist reminds us that the birthplace of Linnaeus still has an active role in modern taxonomy through the work of the Swedish Taxonomy Initiative. The positive outlook presented by Polaszek and colleagues is especially encouraging from a discipline that at times has an unfortunate tendency to focus more on what it has not done, than on what it has achieved.

—Vincent S. Smith, Department of Entomology, The Natural History Museum

Syst. Biol. 59(6):757–760, 2010

Table of Contents

The Major Historical Trends of Biodiversity Studies, E.O. Wilson

Linnaeus: A Passion for Order, D. Quammen

Daniel Rolander: The Invisible Naturalist, J. Dobreff

Taxonomy and the Survival of Threatened Animal Species: A Matter of Life and Death, G. McGregor Reid

Engineering a Linnaean Ark of Knowledge for a Deluge of Species, Q.D. Wheeler

Historical Name-Bearing Types in Marine Molluscs: An Impediment to Biodiversity Studies? P. Bouchet and E.E. Strong

Flying after Linnaeus: Diptera Names since Systema Naturae (1758), N.L. Evenhuis, T. Pape, A.C. Pont, and F.C. Thompson

e-Publish or Perish? S. Knapp and D. Wright

Reviving Descriptive Taxonomy after 250 Years: Promising Signs from a Mega-Journal in Taxonomy, Z.-Q. Zhang

Provisional Nomenclature: The On-Ramp to Taxonomic Names, D.E. Schindel and S.E. Miller

Future Taxonomy, D.J. Patterson

The Encyclopedia of Life: A New Digital Resource for Taxonomy, J. Hanken

Future Taxonomy Today: New Tools Applied to Accelerate the Taxonomic Process, N.F. Johnson

The All Genera Index: Strategies for Managing the BIG Index of All Scientific Names, D. Remsen

Linnaeus–Sherborn–ZooBank, A. Polaszek and E. Michel

ZooBank: Reviewing the First Year and Preparing for the Next 250, R.L. Pyle and E. Michel

Celebrating 250 Dynamic Years of Nomenclatural Debates, B. Dayrat

250 Years of Swedish Taxonomy, F. Ronquist



Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Animals / General
NATURE / Ecology
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Evolution