Taxonomy, Nomenclature, Species, and the Endangered Species Act – #365papers – 2017 – 43

#365papers for February 12, 2017 – DARWIN DAY

Leslie, 2014, Impacts of phylogenetic nomenclature on the efficacy of the U.S. Endangered Species Act: Conservation Biology, v. 29, p. 69-77.

What’s it about?

The U.S. Endangered Species Act depends upon the definition of ‘species’ for it to work. However, ‘species’ is not a concept for which all biologists agree upon a definition, and there is plenty of debate about how traditional Linnaean taxonomy can fail. This paper focuses on the impact of using a different classification scheme called PhyloCode, and its definition of species.

Why does it matter?

If we can’t define a species, how can we protect it?

Why did I read this?

I picked out this paper because I will soon be lecturing on species concepts and nomenclatural systems in paleontology. Most of us learn about Linnaean taxonomy in biology courses, but there is a new(-ish) nomenclature now in use by some paleontologists, called PhyloCode. I thought this would be an interesting paper to look at as it discusses how species is handled within PhyloCode and also could be of broad general interest. In the end, I really liked this paper and will probably use it in my course this semester.

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