Taxonomy/Systematics in the Twenty-First Century
Taxonomy/systematics has had a history extending back to the 1880s, with Cassandras issuing dire warnings about the future of the science, but little hard data exist to document these warnings. Some institutions have done well, while others have endured severe cutbacks or even disappeared. Meanwhile, the need for effective biodiversity knowledge is increasing exponentially. The numbers of species in many groups is truly staggering, and the use of information technology to manage terascale volumes of data in the science of taxonomy is inarguably essential. The tools to effectively move on this need to be developed, and online models for specific groups of organisms including
species rich groups need to be made available. Some unfortunate decisions and trends in the management of natural history museums and universities have occurred in the recent past. Human capital and mobility need to be enhanced. The biodiversity crisis is real. Rivalries must be put aside, and true cooperation must occur if the crisis is to be addressed. An action plan is needed to: (1) establish an international structure to deal with issues vital to furthering a healthy taxonomy/ systematics community, including a czar to spearhead the plan; (2) increase spending with funding levels targeted on per capita population; (3) approach staffing needs in universities with proactive arguments for replacing retiring staff with taxonomists; (4) channel people and training into the study of understudied groups of organisms; (5) direct training and education at enhancing human capital in systematics in developing countries; (6) require and facilitate international cooperation of networks and institutions; and (7) apply information technology on a large scale with the establishment of super computing centres.