Articles on Taxonomy

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Museum collections are repositories of specimens and data, including specimens, tissue samples and vocal recordings. from Wikimedia Commons

Taxonomy, the science of naming things, is under threat

Taxonomists are becoming as rare as some of the species they work on, and this puts museum collections and conservation efforts under threat and increases the risk of biosecurity incursions.
Berzelia stokoei, one of the 3% of plants in South Africa that are found nowhere else in the world. Marinda Koekemoer

Why plants need an identity

There is good news for plant conservation in South Africa and internationally.
Attenborougharion rubicundus is one of more than a dozen species named after the legendary naturalist Sir David Attenborough. Simon Grove/Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

It’s funny to name species after celebrities, but there’s a serious side too

Scientists have been naming species after well-known people since the 18th century, often in a bid for publicity. But the issue deserves attention – 400,000 Australian species are yet to be described.
Specimens in herbaria include “pickled” plants in pots (shown here), dried specimens and fruits or seeds preserved whole. Ainsley Calladine, State Herbarium of South Australia

From Joseph Banks to big data, herbaria bring centuries-old science into the digital age

Australia's herbaria are a priceless repository, holding around 8 million samples that map historical and current distributions of native and introduced plant species in Australia.
A wax figure of Charles Darwin, whose theories about species have influenced science for centuries. Jose Manuel Ribeiro/Reuters

The long struggle to understand species: from pre-Darwin to the present day

Humans have an innate interest and ability in naming biologically meaningful entities, or species. Taxonomy, then, vies for the title of world's “oldest profession”.

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