Taxonomy in Action

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TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Taxonomy is the science and practice of discovering,
describing, classifying and naming species.
www.bionet-intl.org
[email protected]
Taxonomy in Action is a world wide campaign to
highlight the relevance of taxonomy for all aspects of
biodiversity conservation, management and sustainable use.
Led by BioNET – the global network for taxonomy – this
Biodiversity is Life.
Biodiversity is Our Life.
activity is part of the celebrations for the
2010 International Year of Biodiversity.
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Leptobrachium waysepuntiense
Hamidy & Matsui, 2010 – a new species of litter
frog from Sumatra (Indonesia)
High resolution digital
image of the species
(jpg or other)
© Author of image | affiliation
© A. Hamidy|Zoologicum Bogoriense
Museum (MZB), Research Center
for Biology, LIPI.
This new frog species differs from
all congeners by the colour of its
light blue iris. Morphological
and DNA analysis shows that this
species is more closely related
to Bornean than to other
Sumatran species. It is the fourth
species of Leptobrachium
recorded from Sumatra and its
discovery illustrates the
underestimated diversity of
amphibians in Sumatra.
Contributors: A. Hamidy & M. Matsui
MZB-LIPI and Kyoto University |
[email protected]
Taxonomy is essential to determine the number of species living on Earth and to
discover new species. It provides the baseline data for the prioritization of protected
species and conservation areas and for other management decisions.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Pachypodium namaquanum
(Wyley ex Harv.) Welwitsch 1869
– seeking refuge in a changing world
© S.P. Bester| SANBI
© J. Swart | SANBI
This CITES-listed icon of the
Richtersveld (South Africa) and
southern Namibia belongs to the
oleander family (Apocynaceae). It
grows up to 1.5 m and has spiny,
unusually branched stems. The
branches are tipped with rosettes
of leaves and the flowers are
nested inside the head of leaves
and spines. It inhabits extremely
dry, rocky slopes with its roots
wedged between large boulders
and in rock crevices.
Contributor: S.P. Bester | South African National
Biodiversity Institute | [email protected]
Collections of specimens housed in herbaria are invaluable to taxonomists for their
research. For example, these archival records become relevant in discussions on
climate change as they can indicate changes in species distribution over time.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Achatina fulica Bowditch
East African Land Snail – a giant pest
© Arthur D. Chapman | Australian Biodiversity Information Services
The giant East African snail (A.
fulica), giant Ghana tiger snail
(A. achatina), and giant West
African snail (A. marginata) are
collectively known as “Giant
African Snails (GAS)". They grow
up to 20cm in size and are one
of the world's largest and most
damaging land snail pests. They
feed on more than 500 different
plant species, carry pathogens,
and are a major biosecurity risk
in the tropics and sub-tropics.
Contributor: Posa A. Skelton
BioNET-PACINET | [email protected]
Taxonomists have helped to compile pest alerts and identification guides with
descriptions and photographs to help officials and the general public to identify the
giant snails as a first step towards early detection, eradication and control.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Transitia carlosi
Valdecasas, 2010
Interstitial water mite – a colorful midget
Water mites display very
contrasting morphology and
astounding colours. This newly
discovered species is conspicuous
because of its extremely flat body.
It lives in the interstitial waters of the
river Escondido on the island of
Coiba (Panama).
The river harbors a very diverse
fauna of minute water mites of
less than 1 mm in length. Their
abundance and diversification are
excellent indicators of ecological
quality and health.
© Antonio G. Valdecasas |MNCN, CSIC | Spain
Contributor: Antonio G. Valdecasas |
Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC)|
[email protected]
Taxonomy opens the door to the world of discovery for the general public. It
employs state of the art technology, like 3D visualization software, to provide vivid
images of life forms that live on people's doorsteps, but are often unknown.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Haliaeetus vocifer Daudin, 1800
African Fish Eagle in Amboseli National Park, Kenya
The African Fish Eagle is a
common bird inhabiting the
lakes and shore lines of East
Africa. Weighing over 3 kg and
with a 2 m wing span it is a very
impressive species.
Birds attract thousands of
people to East Africa and bird
watching is an important
economic factor, contributing
to the livelihoods of many local
communities.
© Fabian Haas | icipe
Contributor: Fabian Haas
icipe | [email protected]
Extensive taxonomic knowledge and the availability of field guides makes birds perfect indicators
for conservation areas. Several ‘Important Bird Areas’ in East Africa have been developed into ‘Key
Biodiversity Areas’ – places of international importance for biodiversity conservation.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Kiwa hirsuta Macpherson, Jones & Segonzac, 2005 – the Yeti crab
This “hairy” crab was discovered
in the South Pacific in 2005 by a
group from the Monterey Bay
Aquarium Research Institute in
Monterey, California, and a
‘Census of Marine Life’ scientist
using the submarine DSV Alvin.
The 15 cm long species is
notable for the quantity of silky
blond setae covering its legs.
© Philippe Bouchet | CoML & Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle | [email protected]
Contributor: Mark Costello| Census of
Marine Life (CoML) & University of
Auckland | [email protected]
There is great public interest in species discoveries. Most popular press releases from the
‘Census of Marine Life’ - a large scale global marine biodiversity research programme derive from such taxonomic work.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Hypoxis hemerocallidea
Fisch, Mey & Avé-Lall – The Star Flower,
a ‘wonder potato’ for healing
This attractive perennial
occurs in the grasslands of South
Africa. The bright yellow flesh from
the large tuber has a bitter taste.
The plant has been known and
used by traditional healers for
centuries past. Today there is
some controversy involving
conflicting opinions about its
‘miracle’ medical properties
especially with regard to HIV/Aids.
Still, it is one of the most-traded
plants at muti markets in the
Eastern Cape.
© B. Hölscher | South African National Biodiversity Institute
Contributor: Beate Hölscher
SANBI| [email protected]
Star flowers and related species are frequently dug up and sold for medicinal
purposes, though in raw form they can be toxic. Taxonomists need to be consulted to
identify the correct species and to ensure conservation of the populations in the wild.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Hippocampus satomiae
Lourie & Kuiter, 2008 - a miniature seahorse
This pygmy seahorse
species – first described in
2008 – belongs to the smallest
known familiy of seahorses on
Earth with an average length
of 13.8 mm and an approximate height of 1.5 mm.
H. satomiae was named in
honour of Miss Satomi Onishi,
the dive guide who collected
the type specimens.
© John Sear | [email protected]
© Rudie Kuiter | [email protected]
Our planet holds many wonders and treasures. Each day taxonomists discover new
species – yet these finds often get little attention from Homo sapiens. To date we know the
names of only 1.8 million of an estimated 18 million different species.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Philantomba walteri
Colyn et al. 2010
Walters’ Duiker – a newly discovered mammal
© Marc Colyn | University of Rennes, France
This new duiker species
inhabits the Dahomey Gap in
West Africa. It is closely related
to two other species targeted
by the bushmeat trade: the
blue duiker (P. monticola) and
maxwells' duiker (P. maxwelli).
Walter’s duiker was recently
described based on
craniometric analyses (skull
measurements) and DNA data.
Contributor: Erik Verheyen |
University of Antwerp, Belgium |
[email protected]
The impact of bushmeat practices affects nearly all larger mammals in the African
rainforests. The taxonomic description of this newly discovered antelope species
should facilitate research into its ecology and behaviour, as well as its conservation.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Bactrocera invadens
Drews et al. 2005 – Invasive fruit fly
© Fabian Haas | icipe
This tiny fuit fly species
entered East Africa in 2004
and quickly spread all over
the whole continent. On its
way it devastated mango
crops to a degree that the
fruits became unusable even
for juice production. The
species is considered a
quarantine pest, destroying
export opportunities for small
scale farmers.
Contributor: Fabian Haas
icipe | [email protected]
It was only through detailed taxonomic research and surveys that this species
was identified as a problem and targeted management measures could be
developed. Correct identification is paramount for border controls and export.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Psoralea abbottii
Abbott’s Fountain Bush
© Charles Stirton | University of Cape Town
C.H. Stirton, 1995
This plant is a rare legume and
a key indicator of the health
of the endangered wetlands
in southern KwaZulu-Natal,
South Africa, where it grows.
Scarcely recognizable when
not in flower, this cryptic
species would have escaped
the attention of scientists were
it not for the explorations and
persistence of a local amateur
botanist - Tony Abbott - after
whom the plant is named.
Contributor: Charles Stirton | University of
Cape Town | [email protected]
Many rare and localized species owe their scientific recognition to dedicated amateurs.
They live locally, can visit habitats throughout the year and can collect comprehensive
species information. Their role in taxonomy should be applauded and recognised.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Varanus palawanensis
Koch, Gaulke & Böhme, 2010 - Underestimated
diversity of Southeast Asian giant monitor lizards
The distinctness of the Palawan
water monitor lizard has long been
disregarded. What was formerly
considered one widespread
Philippine species (i.e., V. marmoratus) was described as three
locally endemic species in 2010.
This demonstrates the need for
taxonomic expertise as currently
not even the more conspicuous
vertebrates on our planet are all
known to us.
© Ingo Langlotz
Contributor: André Koch
Zoological Research Museum A. Koenig
(ZFMK) | [email protected]
Taxonomy helped to resolve the underestimated diversity of CITES-relevant giant
lizards, which are highly exploited for the international reptile leather trade. Only
recognition and protection of distinct species can ensure their persistence.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Ancyronyx punkti Freitag & Jäch, 2007
A Philippine spider water beetle
© Hendrik Freitag | AQUA Palawana | Austria
The genus Ancyronyx was
known for a long time only from
a single species in North
America. In the last decades,
several new species have been
discovered in South East Asia
e.g. by the AQUA Palawana
Taxonomic Initiative in the
Philippines. The endemic A.
punkti from Palawan is used
as the mascot of Punkt e.V. –
a German NGO for environmental education.
Contributor: Hendrik Freitag|
Senckenberg Museum of Zoology Dresden|
[email protected]
Taxonomic knowledge of freshwater macroinvertebrates enables the development
of indicator systems to evaluate the water quality of streams. Such standardized
biological indices are used in many countries as they are very precise.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Pipestela candelabra
Alvarez, Hooper & Van Soest, 2008
the ‘Bob Marley Sponge’
Logo
author of
text
Logo
author of
image
Named the ‘Bob Marley sponge’
due to the dreadlock-style growth
form, this new species of a new
genus is one of the most widelydistributed sponge species on the
Great Barrier Reef, extending into
PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu,
at a depth of 10 to 20 m.
Finding such a common animal
widely spread across the Great
Barrier Reef belonging to a new
genus clearly tells us how little we still
know of the taxonomy of even our
shallow coastal waters.
© John Hooper | Queensland Museum
Contributors: John Hooper & Belinda Alvarez |
Queensland Museum & Northern Territory Museum |
[email protected]
Following the taxonomic description of this species, new tripeptide chemicals hemiasterlins (milnamide and geodiamolides) - were discovered showing high bioactive cytotoxicity. These are now in preclinical development for cancer treatment.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Carychium minimum Müller, 1774
Microsnail hitchhikes across the Atlantic
High resolution digital
image of the species
(jpg or other)
© Adrienne Jochum | Biodiversity & Climate Research Centre (BiK-F)
Originally, the microsnail
C. minimum was a common
species of the European mainland, inhabiting permanently
moist environments like
meadows, swamps or
riparian zones.
As a result of the post-Columbian
globalization, populations of this
species have been recorded on
the islands of the Azores and on
the East and West coast of North
America.
Contributor: Alexander M. Weigand
BiK-F| [email protected]
Molecular taxonomy (e.g. DNA barcoding) - the identification of species using a short,
homologous and ubiquitous stretch of nucleotides – can identify introduced species
and assist the reconstruction of routes and origins of species invasions.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Hyperolius veithi
Schick, Kielgast, Rödder,
Muchai, Burger & Lötters, 2010
- Veith’s reed frog
This species was only recently
discovered in primary forest in the
Salonga National Park, DRC, in the
Central Congo River Basin.
Unlike many other reed frog species,
males and females of this species do
not differ in their colour pattern.
Their life history is next to unknown,
except that eggs are deposited on
leaves and larvae drop into water
below for development.
© Jos Kielgast | Zoological Museum Copenhagen
Contributors: Susanne Schick, Jos Kielgast
and Stefan Lötters | Trier University |
[email protected]
The description of this reed frog helped to clarify the confusing taxonomy of other
Central African reed frog species. Their relationship also gives insights into the
colonization of the poorly understood Congo Basin and its periphery.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Aiteng ater
Swennen & Buatip, 2009
– an insect eating slug
This sea slug was discovered in
mangrove forests of Thailand and
described in 2009. Its unique morphological characters suggest that it is a
distinct family (Aitengidae). The slug is
atypical because it preys on insect
larvae and pupae.
The discovery of Aiteng ater has been
widely covered by the Thai media, in
part because its genus and species
names are derived from the Thai
words for a popular form of shadow
puppetry.
© Cornelis Swennen | Prince of Songkla University, Thailand
Contributor: Jann Elizabeth Vendetti |
California State University, Los Angeles|
[email protected]
The attention on this taxonomic work has led to informative signage at the slug's
mangrove habitat and efforts from the government and local institutions to educate
the public about the need to protect Thailand's mangrove forests.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Caenocholax fenyesi texensis
Kathirithamby & Johnston, 2004
C. fenyesi sensu lato (Strepsiptera)
was thought to be a single species
until morphological and molecular
studies revealed it to be a complex
of several lineages found from
Southern USA to Argentina.
The males are free-living and
parasitize ants; the females are
totally endoparasitic and parasitize
crickets. In southern USA, the species
may become relevant as a
bio-control agent for the red
imported fire ant.
© Jeyaraney Kathirithamby | University of Oxford
Contributor: Jeyaraney Kathirithamby |
University of Oxford |
[email protected]
DNA sequencing has given taxonomists a tool for detecting cryptic species that are
difficult to distinguish morphologically. The identification of target species in cryptic
parasitoid complexes is vital for biocontrol purposes.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Gymnocephalus ambriaelacus
Geiger & Schliewen, 2010 - a new endemic
ruffe species from Lake Ammersee (Germany)
© Andreas Hartl
This newly discovered ruffe
species differs from related
species (Gymnocephalus:
Percidae) by its distinct body
shape and molecular characters. It is potentially
endangered since the
common ruffe (G. cernua)
has been accidentally introduced into Lake Ammersee
and might outcompete the
newly discovered endemic
species. Unfortunately,
sufficient information to assess
its conservation status is not
yet available.
Contributors: Matthias Geiger & Ulrich
Schliewen, Bavarian State Collection of
Zoology, [email protected]
The discovery of a new vertebrate species in Central Europe shows that taxonomic
inventories with relevance to conservation issues are still incomplete and that even
geologically young (postglacial) lakes may contain endemic species.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Brachylophus bulabula
Fisher, Harlow, Edwards & Keogh, 2008
a new endemic iguana of Fiji
© Posa A. Skelton | BioNET-PACINET
This newly discovered iguana
species is closely related to the
two other iguanas endemic to
Fiji and Tonga: the crested
iguana (B. vitiensis) and the
banded iguana (B. fasciatus).
This species was described after
morphological and DNA
analyses showed that B.
bulabula was physically and
genetically different from the
two other species.
Contributor: Posa A. Skelton |
BioNET-PACINET |
[email protected]
Taxonomy is the knowledge base for conserving and sharing the benefits of biodiversity. For example, numerous nature reserves have been established because
of the discovery of a rare species, or rediscovery of a species thought to be extinct.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Aphelocheirus freitagi
Zettel & Pangantihon, 2010
a newly discovered Water Ground Bug
This bug was recently
detected in Lake Naujan
National Park on Mindoro
Island, Philippines, during field
sampling with the ecology &
entomology courses of the
De La Salle University, Manila.
It became the 11th known
species of the genus in the
Philippines. All are endemic to
particular regions of the
archipelago.
© NHMW Hemiptera Image Collection|
Natural History Museum Vienna| Austria
Contributor: Clister V. Pangantihon |
De La Salle University Manila |
[email protected]
Taxonomic research is fundamental for the identification of the high number of
endemic species in the world’s biodiversity hotspots such as the Philippines. Training
of local junior scientists is essential to establish domestic expertise in this area.
— the leader in establishing and operating partnerships for taxonomy in developing countries | www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
TAXONOMY IN ACTION
Read more on the importance
BioNET is a global network for taxonomy
of taxonomy, species & biodiversity
with ten government-endorsed regional
partnerships encompassing institutions in over
100 countries, and a Secretariat in the UK
hosted by CABI, an international
not-for-profit organisation.
BioNET case studies |GTI case
study on taxonomy & climate
change | Convention on Biological
Diversity – 2010 International Year
of Biodiversity
Biodiversity is Life.
Biodiversity is Our Life.
BioNET’s mission is to enhance human
well-being and biodiversity conservation by
building capacity to discover, name and
classify the world’s living organisms.
For more information please contact the BioNET Secretariat
BioNET-INTERNATIONAL – the global network for taxonomy
BioNET-Secretariat, CABI, Bakeham Lane, Egham, TW20 9TY, UK
t: +44 (0)1491 829036 f: +44 (0)1491 829082
www.bionet-intl.org | [email protected]
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