1st Edition

What Species Mean A User's Guide to the Units of Biodiversity

By Julia D. Sigwart Copyright 2019
    260 Pages 19 Color & 22 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    248 Pages 19 Color & 22 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    248 Pages 19 Color & 22 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    Everyone uses species. All human cultures, whether using science or not, name species. Species are the basic units for science, from ecosystems to model organisms. Yet, there are communication gaps between the scientists who name species, called taxonomists or systematists, and those who use species names—everyone else. This book opens the "black box" of species names, to explain the tricks of the name-makers to the name-users. Species are real, and have macroevolutionary meaning, and it follows that systematists use a broadly macroevolution-oriented approach in describing diversity. But scientific names are used by all areas of science, including many fields such as ecology that focus on timescales more dominated by microevolutionary processes. This book explores why different groups of scientists understand and use the names given to species in very different ways, and the consequences for measuring and understanding biodiversity.


    Key selling features:

    • Explains the modern, multi-disciplinary approach to studying species evolution and species discovery, and the role of species names in diverse fields throughout the life sciences
    • Documents the importance and urgent need for high-quality taxonomic work to address today’s most pressing problems
    • Summarises controversies in combining different—sometimes quite different—datasets used to estimate global biodiversity
    • Focusses throughout on a central theme—the disconnect between the makers and the users of names—and seeks to create the rhetorical foundation needed to bridge this disconnect
    • Anticipates the future of taxonomy and its role in studies of global biodiversity

    1. Premise. 2. General concepts. 3. Everyone uses species. 4. Why do the names keep changing? 5. Species are units of evolution. 6. Natural patterns in classification. 7. Are species real? 8. How to name a species. 9. Biodiversity and extinction through time. 10. How many species are there? 11. Dynamic patterns in biodiversity. 12. Translating biodiversity across cultural barriers


    Dr Julia D. Sigwart is the director of the Queen’s University Marine Laboratory, an interdisciplinary institute for marine science in Portaferry, N. Ireland. She completed her undergraduate education at the University of Victoria, and then took up a position on the scientific staff at the American Museum of Natural History. She later moved to Ireland, to manage a research programme linking the National Museum of Ireland (Natural History) and University College Dublin. In 2009, she moved to her faculty position in Queen’s University, Belfast. She has published over 70 papers on diverse topics and organisms. Her research focuses on the evolution of diversity in molluscs and other animal groups, spanning both living and fossil species.