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Type: Correspondence
Published: 2020-01-31
Page range: 67–72
Abstract views: 592
PDF downloaded: 432

On species concepts, phylogenetics and the science of natural history—three current issues facing taxonomy

Curtin University, Perth, Australia
classification nomenclature taxonomy name changes biodiversity natural history education science funding fundamental sciences


Taxonomy faces some major challenges in the 21st Century (Godfray 2002). The threat to biodiversity comes largely from human overpopulation, but the impact of climate change is unprecedented (Pievani 2014) and increasingly a risk factor for many species. This makes it even more critical to rapidly catalogue our biodiversity to better protect it (Mace 2004). If you do not know what is there, it is impossible to know what we are losing, let alone protect something for which we have no name and cannot identify. Understanding diversity and the dynamics of evolution and speciation is important to discover the adaptability of species in a changing world dominated by humans (e.g. Harvey et al. 2014), but at the same time education about the natural world seems to have failed our children.

Below I address three major questions or issues that are current in taxonomy, and natural history in the broader sense, related to species concepts, classification, communication and education.



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