Taxonomy : The science which identifies, describes, classifies and names living beings. Taxonomy is the most fundamental of life sciences and is becoming crucial to biodiversity management, public health, agriculture, and many other aspects of life and society.
Taxonomy is a science for sustainable development, but it is also a sustainably developed science. It draws on molecular techniques, vast collections, and varied expertise to become the Megascience of biodiversity.
EDIT (the European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy): A network of 28 major taxonomic institutions, devoted to making more powerful, more reliable and more applicable taxonomy. For a fuller description of EDIT, click here.
Taxonomists identify species in the wild, notice the risk of extinction or the arrival of invasive species and follow the changes in biodiversity over time. They undertake inventories to survey the flora and fauna of various areas and provide advice for their protection. They also serve as experts for customs services, human and agricultural health services or resource management expertise. EDIT organises field inventories with better methodologies and more powerful data management than before.
Natural History museums gather millions of specimens in collections, which provide accumulated knowledge on life on Earth in the past millions of years. They also serve as a guarantee of scientific rigor for the many professionals and amateurs who use them daily. Natural History museums develop expertise and scientific progress to better know life on Earth.
Taxonomy makes use of new technologies to put experts in contact, exchange data and scientific hypotheses, and manage the vast wealth of information stored in collections. Taxonomy covers all reigns of life, from the minute to the overarching, from morphology to genetics to behaviour to ecology. Thanks to computer systems and internet communications, we can now put such expansive expertise to good use.
The level of expertise that taxonomists can bring to bear requires strong training. Education in hands-on practical knowledge as well as theory and methodology is the only way to provide a strong base to answer tomorrow’s questions. With that in mind, EDIT is providing several tools to help train the next generation of taxonomists.