Much has been written recently about the loss of biodiversity and the impediments to taxonomic research. Included among the latter are the scarcity of taxonomic expertise and the insufficient infrastructure supporting taxonomy. The juxtaposition of the biodiversity crisis and current impediments to taxonomic research has created the taxonomic crisis, a situation in which much of the diversity of our planet is likely to disappear before it can be discovered and described. Scientists estimate that less than 10 percent of the world's taxonomically recognizable populations have been described. Although many scientists recognize the extreme seriousness and negative consequences of the taxonomic crisis, recommendations for solutions have been slow to develop.
LINNE is an initiative to construct research environments in which access to specimens, data, and analytical tools are opened to researchers through high-performance networks (i.e., cyberinfrastructure) to address the taxonomic crisis. The conceptual basis for LINNE was developed at U.S. National Science Foundation-funded workshops at the University of Florida Museum of Natural History and The New York Botanical Garden in 2003 and capitalizes on recent advances in taxonomic theory, technology, and practices. The goal of LINNE is to accelerate taxonomic research and improve biological collection infrastructure so that reliable information on biological diversity is available to all branches of science and society.
LINNE will be an interactive network of taxonomists and institutions incorporating the latest technologies to seamlessly link researchers with other scientists, biological collections and other research facilities, and state-of-the-art instruments for efficient species discovery, description, identification, and classification. LINNE will transform taxonomy by removing impediments to taxonomic research and make comprehensive information on the world's species easily accessible to researchers, educators, and decision-makers who depend on knowledge of biological diversity.
The full potential of taxonomy will be realized when institutions supporting taxonomic research and biological collections are components of one comprehensive network. Nodes of the network will be existing institutions with biological collections and taxonomic research programs. Each node will have unique strengths and expertise, e.g., particular taxa, geographic data, or specialized instrumentation. The network will be distributed across the nation, and resources at each node (e.g., specimens, images, literature, molecular data) will be available to researchers, educators, and policy-makers everywhere via the Internet.