The New Taxonomy

Front Cover
Quentin D. Wheeler
CRC Press, Apr 9, 2008 - Science - 256 pages
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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.


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Page ii - Systematics (1940) was a classic work edited by its then-president Sir Julian Huxley, that set out the problems facing general biologists in deciding which kinds of data would most effectively progress systematics. Since then, more than 70 volumes have been published, often in rapidly expanding areas of science where a modern synthesis is required. The modus operand/ of the Association is to encourage leading researchers to organize symposia that result in a multi-authored volume. In...
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