Australian Systematic Botany Australian Systematic Botany Society
Taxonomy, biogeography and evolution of plants
REVIEW

Evaluating the progress and needs of taxonomy since the Convention on Biological Diversity: going beyond the rate of species description

Elise Tancoigne A B D and Guillaume Ollivier C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité, ISYEB – UMR 7205 CNRS MNHN UPMC EPHE, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 25 Rue Cuvier, F-75005 Paris, France.

B INRA, UMR Lisis, IFRIS, Université Marne-la-Vallée, Cité Descartes, Champs-sur-Marne, 5 Boulevard Descartes, F-77454 Marne-la-Vallée Cedex 02, France.

C INRA, UR0767 Ecodéveloppement, PACA Research Centre, Site Agroparc, CS40509, F-84914 Avignon Cedex 9, France.

D Corresponding author. Present address: University of Geneva, Boulevard Carl Vogt 66, CH-1205 Geneva, Switzerland. Email: elise.tancoigne@unige.ch

Australian Systematic Botany 30(4) 326-336 https://doi.org/10.1071/SB16017
Submitted: 12 April 2016  Accepted: 25 August 2017   Published: 21 December 2017

Abstract

There is a long tradition of assessing the activity and progress of taxonomy with quantitative indicators, such as, for example, number of taxonomists, species described and species collected. These evaluations play a key role in the context of a worldwide concern over biodiversity and its governance. We have described and analysed these evaluations since 1992, the year in which the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was adopted. We showed that despite the establishment of a dedicated body inside the CBD (the Global Taxonomy Initiative), these quantitative evaluations are mostly sporadic and independent initiatives, performed by non-taxonomists. They do not map the places where most of the taxonomic activities take place, and they are performed on small scales, with scarce and heterogeneous sources of data, making comparisons almost impossible. Most of the indicators they use refer to the activity of species description. We argue that there is a need to rethink the way we evaluate taxonomy today and we discuss why it is urgent to move beyond indicators of species description. We suggest the use of a new set of indicators that would focus on taxonomic resources and dynamics, instead of taxonomic outputs.

Additional keywords: capacity assessment, collections, Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI), taxonomic impediment, text analysis.


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