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Some researchers have suggested that knowledge gaps in the classification of species and a lack of trained taxonomists is a barrier to the conservation and sustainable use of the planet's species.

In this letter to Science, Marcelo R. de Carvalho from the University of São Paulo biology department and 15 colleagues from around the world refute opinions on the problem that were published in Science in 2004 (see Developing countries need more taxonomy).

They say that a large proportion of research biologists in Latin America are systematists —trained in the classification of species — and that Brazil in particular has more than most countries.

Carvalho and colleagues say taxonomy and systematics should be seen as more than just a 'biodiversity naming service'. They add that developing countries should protect biodiversity in their countries by taking the lead in funding appropriate research.

The authors conclude that the answer is to boost theoretical training, ensure more professionals are in place and promote the discipline to policymakers as a robust science.

Link to full letter by Marcelo R. de Carvalho et al in Science

Reference: Science 307, 353 (2005)

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