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Topic: RE: Taxonomic research and 2010, 1 Attachments
Conf: How to reach the 2010-and beyond- target: research influencing policy, Msg: 8418
From: Dan Faith (
Date: 09/10/2006 12:42 PM

RE: Taxonomic research and 2010 Dan Faith efn2010 I was inspired by Simon Tillier’s entry on taxonomic research needs, which was both passionate and pragmatic. He described a sensible way forward, in “the development of a very large distributed research infrastructure, allowing processing of biodiversity data from observations, collections and documents to transparent use of informatics tools.”

However, I suggest some minor shifts in perspective that may better serve the research needs for 2010:

1) Rather than emphasis on “the minimum amount of knowledge requested consisting in an estimate of the number of species present”, I think pragmatic biodiversity conservation planning often will need estimates of marginal gains/losses rather than estimates of total species numbers in a given place. Priority research for expanding taxonomic knowledge may focus on those taxa, and those places, that best increase the prospects for the modelling referred to by Simon Tillier, and its application to planning and assessment for 2010 (see Faith, 2005).

2) I was intrigued by the proposal to first make sure “that the concepts corresponding to species names are the same”. I think that a standard concept is possible (based on a generalized lineage concept; see Faith, 2004), but this will not really help us address the 2010 biodiversity target. The pressing needs for addressing the 2010 target perhaps point to the need for the molecular “tagging” approaches highlighted by Simon Tillier. This approach, rather than a standard species concept, may provide the standard, comparative, data needed urgently for conservation planning for 2010. Research is needed to explore how a rapid, large scale DNA barcoding program might be used for conservation planning for 2010. I think this could be another pathway for the SCP approach (see previous D. P. Faith entry on Faith-Ferrier SCP analyses, in “How to reach the 2010-and beyond- target: research influencing policy” or references).

The attached figure (see file attached to this entry) illustrates the link from a DNA barcoding database to Faith-Ferrier SCP analyses for the 2010 biodiversity target. The analyses were applied to phylogenetic and geographic information from the public “Barcode of Life Database” (arctic Collembola of Hogg & Hebert, 2004) for 19 taxa and 7 localities or ‘sites’). The example suggests that, if sites are going to be lost from protection at a constant rate, SCP selection of sites protected-versus-lost could reduce the rate of biodiversity loss.

Research may develop this kind of link between rapid expansion of our biodiversity knowledge base and the analyses and planning that measure achievement of the 2010 target.


Faith, D. P. (2004) From species to supertrees: Popperian corroboration and some current controversies in systematics. Australian Systematic Botany.

Faith, D. P. (2005) Indicator taxa in support of the 2010 Biodiversity Target. GBIF Seed Money Prioritization ECAT - Electronic Conference. (May 25 – June 1, 2005).

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Click to open!DNA barcoding and the 2010 target.doc
DNA barcoding and 2010 (27,648 bytes)