Taxonomy-and-Systematics

ASG Secretariat Lead Contact: Ariadne Angulo (aangulo[at]amphibians.org)

These actions were developed by the ASG Secretariat with input from Darrel Frost, Rachunliu Kamei and Stephen Mahony.

Current Priority Actions

The following are immediate priorities identified for Taxonomy and Systematics. The actions are expected to change as progress is made in addressing the issues.

In addition to the constraints in the table below, a number of additional issues were identified, including: an unquantified number of new, undescribed species and their impact on existing species concepts; complex and sometimes intractable taxonomic issues; taxonomic flux; and different opinions by different taxonomic authorities on nomenclature. Individuals and organisations working on this topic should be aware of these factors as they will have an effect on implementation of priority actions.

Major Constraints To Effective ConservationMid-term Priorities (1–5 years)Short-term Targets (6–12 months)
SCIENCE
Insufficient taxonomic expertiseDevelop funds to train future taxonomists in coordination with taxonomists in academic positionsIdentify potential donors and funding mechanisms, reach out to prospective donors
Lack of employment opportunities in the taxonomic fieldDevelop an outreach campaign targeting both the general public and decision makers to stress the importance of taxonomy and taxonomic workTogether with taxonomists and communicators, develop documentation (presentations, brochures and webpage) on the importance of taxonomy in several languages (perhaps start off with IUCN’s three official languages)
Museum misidentifications and outdated nomenclature Develop funds to allow for expert taxonomic revisions in museums with large amphibian collections and for museum database updatesIdentify potential donors and funding mechanisms, reach out to prospective donors
Geographic biases in the distribution of taxonomic expertiseDevelop capacity in regions with gaps in taxonomic expertisei. Conduct surveys among the ASG membership to identify regions in need of taxonomic expertise

ii. Contact off-site experts where available to enquire about potential local sources of future taxonomists
iii. Match established taxonomists with potentially new taxonomists in gap regions via the new ASG mentorship programme
Lack of access to modern technologies in amphibian rich regionsi. Enlist local institutions willing to share existing technologies (e.g. molecular laboratories in academic and health care institutions)

ii. Invite new institutions with the ability to house new technologies to partner up with institutions where these technologies are already available and create agreements to facilitate cooperation between them
i. Identify and contact institutions with existing facilities and those able to house and maintain modern equipment

ii. Identify funding mechanisms to facilitate transfer of technologies between existing and potential laboratories with modern technologies
CONSERVATION
Insufficient capacity to keep up with level of taxonomic fluxDevelop funds to allow for extinction risk assessments of species with taxonomic changesIdentify and approach sources of funding that would be amenable to specifically fund extinction risk assessments resulting from taxonomic flux
Lack of coordination between taxonomy and conservation communitiesEstablish communication channels between both communities and encourage collaborative projectsi. ASA to lead in the identification and contact of proactive and communicative members in both taxonomy and conservation communities who would be willing to act as focal points/moderators for these communities, create an online network and invite members of both communities to join

ii. Seek to increase ASG membership with taxonomic expertise
Taxonomic uncertainty precluding conservation actionIncreasing awareness of the need for conservation action in spite of taxonomic uncertainty, whilst not denying the importance of taxonomy in the long termIdentify cases of taxonomic uncertainty (this could be done at a regional level)
POLICY
Legislation hampering the use of modern technologies (stringent requirements to access “genetic resources”)Where possible, work with authorities to change attitudes and eventually legislationi. Identify receptive and responsive relevant authorities in amphibian rich countries where legislation may be an issue in the use of modern technologies

ii. Develop clear and informative amphibian-specific documentation in various languages (perhaps IUCN’s three official languages to begin with) to help explain the need for modern technologies in amphibian taxonomy and how these differ from a commercial application in relation to genetic resources

iii. Identify good communicators in the amphibian community who would be in a position to effectively and successfully communicate the need for modern technologies with targeted receptive authorities
International conservation mechanisms not keeping up with taxonomic changesi. Notify representatives of international mechanisms of nomenclatural discrepancies and notify them of any further changes

ii. Facilitate identification of amphibian species listed in CITES by law enforcement officers through the development of a pictorial guide
i. Identify any major discrepancies in amphibian nomenclature in international mechanisms (e.g. CITES)

ii. Identify key and receptive representatives of these mechanisms and the processes needed to effect nomenclatural changes

iii. Recruit volunteers to identify all amphibians listed in CITES, determine how many have photos, request access to use photos, and in consultation with taxonomic experts, mount a pictorial guide of CITES amphibians
SITE LEVEL STAKEHOLDERS
Insufficient resources to help local stakeholders in identificationsi. Develop materials to help in species identifications (e.g. field guides)

ii. Establish a fund specifically designed to publish field guides
i. Identify those instances where there are local stakeholders who are committed to amphibian work and contact experts on that particular fauna to request expert contribution towards a field guide

ii. Identify and approach potential sources of funding for a field guide development fund

ACAP related chapters

Systematics and Conservation (G. Parra, R. Brown, J. Hanken, B. Hedges, R. Heyer, S. Kuzmin, E. Lavilla, S. Lötters, B. Pimenta, S. Richards, M.O. Rödel, R.O. de Sá and D. Wake).

Read the whole ACAP here.