Advertisement

Taxonomy and conservation science: interdependent and value-laden

  • Stijn ConixEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

The relation between conservation science and taxonomy is typically seen as a simple dependency of the former on the latter. This dependency is assumed to be strictly one-way to avoid normative concerns from conservation science inappropriately affecting the descriptive discipline of taxonomy. In this paper, I argue against this widely assumed standard view on the relation between these two disciplines by highlighting two important roles for conservation scientists in scientific decisions that are part of the internal stages of taxonomy. I show that these roles imply that the two disciplines should be interdependent and that value-judgments should play a substantial role in both.

Keywords

Taxonomy Conservation science Values in science Species classification 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to two anonymous reviewers and the editor for their careful reading and insightful comments. This research was sponsored by the KU Leuven Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds Grant 3H160214.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Adams, M., Lefkowitz, E., King, A., Harrach, B., Harrison, R., Knowles, N., et al. (2017). 50 years of the international committee on taxonomy of viruses: Progress and prospects. Archives of Virology, 162, 1441–1446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alström, P., Rasmussen, P. C., Olsson, U., & Sundberg, P. (2008). Species delimitation based on multiple criteria: The Spotted Bush Warbler Bradypterus thoracicus complex (Aves: Megaluridae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 154(2), 291–307.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1096-3642.2008.00418.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Braby, M. F., & Williams, M. R. (2016). Biosystematics and conservation biology: critical scientific disciplines for the management of insect biological diversity. Austral Entomology, 55(1), 1–17.  https://doi.org/10.1111/aen.12158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Conix, S. (2018). Radical pluralism, classificatory norms and the legitimacy of species classifications. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 73, 27–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Conix, S. (2019). In defence of taxonomic governance. Organisms, Diversity & Evolution.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s13127-019-00391-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Costello, M. J., Vanhoorne, B., & Appeltans, W. (2015). Conservation of biodiversity through taxonomy, data publication, and collaborative infrastructures. Conservation Biology, 29(4), 1094–1099.  https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Devictor, V., & Bensaude-Vincent, B. (2016). From ecological records to big data: the invention of global biodiversity. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 2016(38), 13.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s40656-016-0113-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Douglas, H. (2000). Inductive risk and values in science. Philosophy of Science, 67(4), 559–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Duarte, M., Guerrero, P. C., Carvallo, G., & Bustamante, R. O. (2014). Conservation network design for endemic cacti under taxonomic uncertainty. Biological Conservation, 176, 236–242.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2014.05.028.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dupré, J. (1993). The disorder of things: Metaphysical foundations of the disunity of science. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Dupré, J. (2002). Is ‘natural kind’ a natural kind term? The Monist, 85(1), 29–49.Google Scholar
  12. Ereshefsky, M. (2001). The poverty of the linnaean hierarchy: A philosophical study of biological taxonomy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Frank, D. (2014). Biodiversity, conservation biology, and rational choice. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 45, 101–104.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsc.2013.10.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Frank, D. (2016). ‘Biodiversity’ and biological diversities: Consequences of pluralism between biology and policy. In J. Garson, A. Plutynski, & S. Sarkar (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of philosophy of biodiversity (pp. 96–109). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Frankham, R., Ballou, J. D., Dudash, M. R., Eldridge, M. D. B., Fenster, C. B., Lacy, R. C., et al. (2012). Implications of different species concepts for conserving biodiversity. Biological Conservation, 153, 25–31.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2012.04.034.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Garnett, S. T., & Christidis, L. (2017). Taxonomy anarchy hampers conservation. Nature, 546(7656), 25–27.  https://doi.org/10.1038/546025a.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Giangrande, A. (2003). Biodiversity, conservation, and the ‘Taxonomic impediment’. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 13(5), 451–459.  https://doi.org/10.1002/aqc.584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Godfray, H. C. J. (2002). Challenges for taxonomy. Nature, 417(6884), 17–19.  https://doi.org/10.1038/417017a.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Haber, M. (2012). Multilevel lineages and multidimensional trees: The levels of lineage and phylogeny reconstruction. Philosophy of Science, 79, 609–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Harvey, M. S., Rix, M. G., Framenau, V. W., Hamilton, Z. R., Johnson, M. S., Teale, R. J., et al. (2011). Protecting the innocent: Studying short-range endemic taxa enhances conservation outcomes. Invertebrate Systematics, 25(1), 1–10.  https://doi.org/10.1071/IS11011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hey, J., & Pinho, C. (2012). Population genetics and objectivity in species diagnosis. Evolution, 5(66), 1413–1429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Isaac, N., Mallet, J., & Mace, G. M. (2004). Taxonomic inflation: Its influence on macroecology and conservation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 19(9), 464–469.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2004.06.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Karl, S. A., & Bowen, B. W. (1999). Evolutionary significant units versus geopolitical taxonomy: Molecular systematics of an endangered sea turtle (genus Chelonia). Conservation Biology, 13(5), 990–999.  https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1523-1739.1999.97352.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Khuroo, A. A., Dar, G. H., Khan, Z. S., & Malik, A. H. (2007). Exploring an inherent interface between taxonomy and biodiversity: Current problems and future challenges. Journal for Nature Conservation, 15(4), 256–261.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnc.2007.07.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kitcher, P. (1984). Species. Philosophy of Science, 51, 308–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Leaders. (2007). Hail Linnaeus; species inflation. The Economist, 383, 18.Google Scholar
  27. Ludwig, D. (2016). Ontological choices and the value-free ideal. Erkenntnis, 81(6), 1253–1272.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-015-9793-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mace, G. M. (2004). The role of taxonomy in species conservation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 359(1444), 711–719.  https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2003.1454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McNeely, J. A. (2002). The role of taxonomy in conserving biodiversity. Journal for Nature Conservation, 10(3), 145–153.  https://doi.org/10.1078/1617-1381-00015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mora, C., Tittensor, D. P., Adl, S., Simpson, A. G. B., & Worm, B. (2011). How many species are there on Earth and in the Ocean? PLoS Biology, 9(8), e1001127.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Morar, N., Toadvine, T., & Bohannan, B. J. M. (2015). Biodiversity at twenty-five years: Revolution or red herring? Ethics, Policy & Environment, 18(1), 16–29.  https://doi.org/10.1080/21550085.2015.1018380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Myers, N. (1988). Threatened biotas: “Hot spots” in tropical forests. Environmentalist, 8(3), 187–208.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02240252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Norton, B. (2008). Toward a policy-relevant definition of biodiversity. In G. D. Dreyer, G. Visgilio, & D. Whitelaw (Eds.), Saving biological diversity (pp. 11–20). Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Oates, J., & Ting, N. (2015). Conservation consequences of unstable taxonomies: The case of the red colobus monkeys. In A. Behie & O. Marc (Eds.), Taxonomic tapestries (pp. 321–343). Canberra: ANU Press.Google Scholar
  35. Padial, J. M., & De La Riva, I. (2010). A response to recent proposals for integrative taxonomy. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 101(3), 747–756.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8312.2010.01528.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Prie, V., Puillandre, N., & Bouchet, P. (2012). Bad taxonomy can kill: molecular reevaluation of Unio mancus Lamarck, 1819 (Bivalvia: Unionidae) and its accepted subspecies. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems, 405, 08.  https://doi.org/10.1051/kmae/2012014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Raposo, M. A., Stopiglia, R., Brito, G. R. R., Bockmann, F. A., Kirwan, G. M., Gayon, J., et al. (2017). What really hampers taxonomy and conservation? A riposte to Garnett and Christidis (2017). Zootaxa, 4317(1), 179–184.  https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4317.1.10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Romero, D., Olivero, J., Márquez, A. L., Báez, J. C., & Real, R. (2014). Uncertainty in distribution forecasts caused by taxonomic ambiguity under climate change scenarios: a case study with two newt species in mainland Spain. Journal of Biogeography, 41(1), 111–121.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.12189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Russello, M. A., & Amato, G. (2014). Operationalism matters in conservation: Comments on Frankham et al. (2012). Biological Conservation, 170, 332–333.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2013.12.038.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sarkar, S. (2008). Norms and the conservation of biodiversity. Resonance, 13(7), 627–637.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12045-008-0069-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sarkar, S. (2016). Approaches to biodiversity. In J. Garson, A. Plutynski, & S. Sarkar (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of philosophy of biodiversity (pp. 57–69). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Sarkar, S., & Margules, C. (2002). Operationalizing biodiversity for conservation planning. Journal of Biosciences, 27(4), 299–308.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02704961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schlick-Steiner, B. C., Steiner, F. M., Seifert, B., Stauffer, C., Christian, E., & Crozier, R. H. (2010). Integrative taxonomy: A multisource approach to exploring biodiversity. Annual Review of Entomology, 55(1), 421–438.  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-ento-112408-085432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. (2010). Guide to the Global Taxonomy Initiative. CBD technical series no. 30. https://www.cbd.int/doc/publications/cbd-ts-30.pdf. Accessed 14 Nov 2018.
  45. Solomon, M. (2015). Making medical knowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Soulé, M. E. (1985). What is conservation biology? BioScience, 35(11), 727–734.  https://doi.org/10.2307/1310054.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Steel, D. (2010). Epistemic values and the argument from inductive risk. Philosophy of Science, 77(1), 14–34.  https://doi.org/10.1086/650206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Thomson, S. A., Pyle, R. L., Ahyong, S. T., Alonso-Zarazaga, M., Ammirati, J., Araya, J. F., et al. (2018). Taxonomy based on science is necessary for global conservation. PLoS Biology, 16(3), e2005075.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2005075.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tsang, S. M., Cirranello, A. L., Bates, P. J. J., & Simmons, N. B. (2016). The roles of taxonomy and systematics in bat conservation. In C. C. Voigt & T. Kingston (Eds.), Bats in the anthropocene: Conservation of bats in a changing world (pp. 503–538). Cham: Springer.  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-25220-9_16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tucker, C. M., Cadotte, M. W., Carvalho, S. B., Davies, T. J., Ferrier, S., Fritz, S. A., et al. (2017). A guide to phylogenetic metrics for conservation, community ecology and macroecology. Biological Reviews, 92(2), 698–715.  https://doi.org/10.1111/brv.12252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Vane-Wright, R. I. (1996). Systematics and the conservation of biological diversity. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 83(1), 47–57.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2399967.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Vogel Ely, C., de Loreto Bordignon, S. A., Trevisan, R., & Boldrini, I. I. (2017). Implications of poor taxonomy in conservation. Journal for Nature Conservation, 36, 10–13.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnc.2017.01.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Waeber, P., Gardner, C., Lourenço, W., & Wilmé, L. (2017). On specimen killing in the era of conservation crisis—A quantitative case for modernizing taxonomy and biodiversity inventories. PLoS ONE, 12, e0183903.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0183903.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Waugh, J. (2007). DNA barcoding in animal species: Progress, potential and pitfalls. BioEssays, 29(2), 188–197.  https://doi.org/10.1002/bies.20529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wege, J. A., Thiele, K. R., Shepherd, K. A., Butcher, R., Macfarlane, T. D., & Coates, D. J. (2015). Strategic taxonomy in a biodiverse landscape: A novel approach to maximizing conservation outcomes for rare and poorly known flora. Biodiversity and Conservation, 24(1), 17–32.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-014-0785-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wheeler, Q. D., Knapp, S., Stevenson, D. W., Stevenson, J., Blum, S. D., Boom, B. M., et al. (2012). Mapping the biosphere: Exploring species to understand the origin, organization and sustainability of biodiversity. Systematics and Biodiversity, 10(1), 1–20.  https://doi.org/10.1080/14772000.2012.665095.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Zachos, F. E. (2018). (New) Species concepts, species delimitation and the inherent limitations of taxonomy. Journal of Genetics, 97(4), 811–815.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12041-018-0965-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PhilosophyKU LeuvenLouvainBelgium

Personalised recommendations