The New Taxonomy  book cover
1st Edition

The New Taxonomy

Edited By

Quentin D. Wheeler

ISBN 9780849390883
Published April 9, 2008 by CRC Press
256 Pages 54 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Finalist for 2009 The Council on Botanical & Horticultural Libraries Literature Award!

A Fresh Look at Taxonomy

The most fundamental of all biological sciences, taxonomy underpins any long term strategies for reconstructing the great tree of life or salvaging as much biodiversity as possible. Yet we are still unable to say with any certainty how many species are living on the earth. The New Taxonomy describes how a confluence of theory, cyberinfrastructure, and international teamwork can meet this unprecedented research challenge and marks an emerging field, cybertaxonomy.

Taxonomy Meets the Challenges of the Biodiversity Crisis

An in-depth discussion of the future of descriptive taxonomy, the book examines the efforts of several international groups to catalog the world’s biodiversity and make it accessible. An answer to Julien Huxley’s The New Systematics, the book marks the beginning of an upward trajectory of taxonomy to meet the unprecedented challenges of the biodiversity crisis. Contemporary taxonomists reclaim the unique mission, goals, and importance of taxonomy as an independent science. They cover technologies such as DNA evidence and its applications, computer-assisted species identification, digital morphology, and E-typification. The book also provides insight into effective ways of organizing taxonomic information and discusses what benefits can be leveraged from a rapid growth of taxonomic knowledge.

A Vision and A Strategy for the Future

Not much has changed since E.O. Wilson pointed out how little we know of Earth’s species in 1985. This book offers a vision and a strategy for changing all that. The first current, unapologetic look at morphology and descriptive taxonomy that points out their incredible importance to science and society, this book frames one of the most constructive responses to biodiversity crises. It is a call to action for the taxonomy and museum communities to come together and to organize, plan, innovate, and initiate the most ambitious period of exploration in the long history of taxonomy.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Towards the New Taxonomy. Networks and Their Role in e-Taxonomy. Taxonomy as a Team Sport. Planetary Biodiversity Inventories as Models for the New Taxonomy. On the Use of Taxonomic Concepts in Support of Biodiversity Research and Taxonomy. International Infrastructure for Enabling the New Taxonomy: The Role of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). DNA Sequences in Taxonomy: Opportunities and Challenges. Animal Names for All: ICZN, ZooBank and the New Taxonomy. Understanding Morphology in Systematic Contexts: Three-
Dimensional Specimen Ordination and Recognition. Taxonomic Shock and Awe.

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"… this volume charts the efforts of several international groups to address the problems faced by contemporary taxonomists. In 10 essays covering techniques such as DNA barcoding, computer-aided identification, digital morphology, and E-typification, the book provides what the back cover describes as ‘an unapologetic look at morphology and descriptive taxonomy . . . [that] frames one of the most constructive responses to the biodiversity crisis.’ This is a bold claim. But perhaps we should expect nothing less from the editor, who, amongst other things, is director of Arizona State University’s International Institute for Species Exploration… ."

—Vincent S. Smith, Department of Entomology, The Natural History Museum, London, in Systematic Biology, Vol. 57