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Riedel, Alexander; Sagata, Katayo; Suhardjono, Yayuk R.; Taenzler, Rene; Balke, Michael: Integrative taxonomy on the fast track - towards more sustainability in biodiversity research. In: Frontiers in Zoology 2013, 10:15




Background: A so called ``taxonomic impediment{''} has been recognized as a major obstacle to biodiversity research for the past two decades. Numerous remedies were then proposed. However, neither significant progress in terms of formal species descriptions, nor a minimum standard for descriptions have been achieved so far. Here, we analyze the problems of traditional taxonomy which often produces keys and descriptions of limited practical value. We suggest that phylogenetics and phenetics had a subtle and so far unnoticed effect on taxonomy leading to inflated species descriptions. Discussion: The term ``turbo-taxonomy{''} was recently coined for an approach combining cox1 sequences, concise morphological descriptions by an expert taxonomist, and high-resolution digital imaging to streamline the formal description of larger numbers of new species. We propose a further development of this approach which, together with open access web-publication and automated pushing of content from journal into a wiki, may create the most efficient and sustainable way to conduct taxonomy in the future. On demand, highly concise descriptions can be gradually updated or modified in the fully versioned wiki-framework we use. This means that the visibility of additional data is not compromised, while the original species description -the first version- remains preserved in the wiki, and of course in the journal version. A DNA sequence database with an identification engine replaces an identification key, helps to avoid synonyms and has the potential to detect grossly incorrect generic placements. We demonstrate the functionality of a species-description pipeline by naming 101 new species of hyperdiverse New Guinea Trigonopterus weevils in the open-access journal ZooKeys. Summary: Fast track taxonomy will not only increase speed, but also sustainability of global species inventories. It will be of great practical value to all the other disciplines that depend on a usable taxonomy and will change our perception of global biodiversity. While this approach is certainly not suitable for all taxa alike, it is the tool that will help to tackle many hyperdiverse groups and pave the road for more sustainable comparative studies, e.g. in community ecology, phylogeography and large scale biogeographic studies.