Conservation of biodiversity through taxonomy, data publication, and collaborative infrastructures

Conserv Biol. 2015 Aug;29(4):1094-9. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12496. Epub 2015 Apr 9.


Taxonomy is the foundation of biodiversity science because it furthers discovery of new species. Globally, there have never been so many people involved in naming species new to science. The number of new marine species described per decade has never been greater. Nevertheless, it is estimated that tens of thousands of marine species, and hundreds of thousands of terrestrial species, are yet to be discovered; many of which may already be in specimen collections. However, naming species is only a first step in documenting knowledge about their biology, biogeography, and ecology. Considering the threats to biodiversity, new knowledge of existing species and discovery of undescribed species and their subsequent study are urgently required. To accelerate this research, we recommend, and cite examples of, more and better communication: use of collaborative online databases; easier access to knowledge and specimens; production of taxonomic revisions and species identification guides; engagement of nonspecialists; and international collaboration. "Data-sharing" should be abandoned in favor of mandated data publication by the conservation science community. Such a step requires support from peer reviewers, editors, journals, and conservation organizations. Online data publication infrastructures (e.g., Global Biodiversity Information Facility, Ocean Biogeographic Information System) illustrate gaps in biodiversity sampling and may provide common ground for long-term international collaboration between scientists and conservation organizations.

Keywords: acceso a datos; bases de datos en línea; data access; descubrimiento de especies; online databases; revisión taxonómica; species discovery; taxonomic revision.

MeSH terms

  • Biodiversity*
  • Classification*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Publishing*