Accelerating Taxonomic Discovery Through Automated Character Extraction

TitleAccelerating Taxonomic Discovery Through Automated Character Extraction
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsLaSalle, J., Wheeler Q., Jackway P., Winterton S., Hobern D., and Lovell D.
This paper discusses the following key messages. Taxonomy is (and taxonomists are) more important than ever in times of global change. Taxonomic endeavour is not occurring fast enough: in 250 years since the creation of the Linnean Systema Naturae, only about 20% of Earth’s species have been named. We need fundamental changes to the taxonomic process and paradigm to increase taxonomic productivity by orders of magnitude. Currently, taxonomic productivity is limited principally by the rate at which we capture and manage morphological information to enable species discovery. Many recent (and welcomed) initiatives in managing and delivering biodiversity information and accelerating the taxonomic process do not address this bottleneck. Development of computational image analysis and feature extraction methods is a crucial missing capacity needed to enable taxonomists to overcome the taxonomic impediment in a meaningful time frame.