The Red List of Taxonomists portal, where taxonomy experts in the field of entomology can register to help map and assess expertise across Europe, in order to provide action points necessary to overcome the risks, preserve and support this important scientific community, will remain open until 31st October 2021.
About 1,000 insect taxonomists – both professional and citizen scientists – from across the European region have already signed up on the Red List of Taxonomists, a recently launched European Commission-funded initiative by the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the scholarly publisher best-known for its biodiversity-themed journals and high-tech innovations in biodiversity data publishing Pensoft.
Within the one-year project, the partners are to build a database of European taxonomy experts in the field of entomology and analyse the collected data to shed light on the trends in available expertise, including best or least studied insect taxa and geographic distribution of the scientists who are working on those groups. Then, they will present them to policy makers at the European Commission.
By recruiting as many as possible insect taxonomists from across Europe, the Red List of Taxonomists initiative will not only be able to identify taxa and countries, where the “extinction” of insect taxonomists has reached a critical point, but also create a robust knowledge base on taxonomic expertise across the European region to prompt further support and funding for taxonomy in the Old Continent.
On behalf of the project partners, we would like to express our immense gratitude to everyone who has self-declared as an insect taxonomist on the Red List of Taxonomists registration portal. Please feel welcome to share our call for participation with colleagues and social networks to achieve maximum engagement from everyone concerned about the future of taxonomy!
Read more about the rationale of the Red List of Taxonomists project.
Follow and join the conversation on Twitter using the #RedListTaxonomists hashtag.
2 thoughts on “The first Red List of Taxonomists in Europe is calling for the support of insect specialists”
Prof Salman Raza Principal Government Degree Boys College 5L New Karachi Pakistan College Education Department Government of Sindh Province Pakistan Prof of Zoology World Renowned Zoologist and Entomologist 🇵🇰🏅🇵🇰🏅
Unfortunately there seems to be a big discrepancy between what the project understands as “Taxonomy” and a “Taxonomist” and what a taxonomist would understand by the words. It is CRITICAL that confusion is removed as soon as possible so that funders (who have one set of expectations) do not have different expectations of the outcomes to taxonomists themselves.
To assits I have prepared a short summary:
The Taxonomy of Taxonomists
The word “taxonomist” is generally thought to mean anyone who can identify animals and/or plants, and this meaning is how the word is understood by many academics, policy and decision makers. However, this is different from what is actually meant by the word in its strict sense. Understanding this is vitally important to ensure that funding can be directed towards the right people in the right places, and there are no mis-matches between the expectations of funders and outputs of practitioners. It is as important as understanding the difference between a Medic (trained doctor) and a Paramedic; or between a legally-trained Lawyer and a Para-legal. These distinctions are well established.
So… the term “Taxonomist” (when applied in the strict sense) means one or more of the following:
Alpha α-Taxonomy refers to the discipline of finding, describing, and naming new taxa, particularly species
β-Taxonomy refers to the classification of ranks higher than species, e.g. revisions to uncover evolutionary relationships and taxonomic affinities between and among species.
γ-Taxonomy refers to the classification of ranks within species. (not really relevant for most pollinator groups)
• Taxonomists are (and always have been) a rarity, particularly in regions where the fauna is now well known and where the frequency of new species being described is low (e.g. in Europe).
• Their geographic scope is that of their taxon of interest; for species-rich groups, some taxonomists restrict themselves to a certain geographical area (e.g. Europe).
• The key thing is that each genus and family is (or should be) covered by someone, somewhere, but not be duplicated taxon-by-taxon and/or state-by-state.
• Taxonomists should work closely with parataxonomists. They should aim to produce papers describing species, outlining molecular phylogenies, producing well-illustrated keys in relevant languages.
• Train the next generation of taxonomists for groups and regions in urgent need of species descriptions and taxonomic revisions.
• Often based in, and supported by, museums with type-holding collections, or in universities with a long tradition of taxonomy (eg UMons, University of Kansas)
• Taxonomists often assume that the word “Taxonomist” applies to them and not to parataxonomists (q.v.) as well
Specialists in USING the OUTPUTS of taxonomy. They need to understand the skills used by taxonomists. They typically considerably outnumber taxonomists in regions with well-known faunas and citizens science projects (e.g. NW Europe); their spread and network should be across regions, nation states and continents.
• Producing (with taxonomists), using and refining accessible keys
• Understanding ecology, distribution, phenology, extinction risk
• Operate at the local, regional, national or international scale
• Will support taxonomists with field work, often in less-known regions, providing specimens, preparing material, curating, databasing, labelling
• Will understand protocols for field sampling
• Advise conservation action, the Red Listing process, science-to-policy, citizen science
• Many will work with citizen scientists and the general public through NGO’s, Voluntary Societies and social media
• Provide training on identification, protocols and other parataxonomic skills to universities, NGO’s and others as appropriate
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