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Prominent biologists have called for taxonomy — the science of naming and classifying organisms — to be 'internationalised' by using Internet tools that would allow scientists and museums worldwide to document and study species diversity (see The future of taxonomy).

In this letter to Science, R. Geeta and colleagues at the US State University of New York, say that a valuable global framework already exists in the form of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This, they say, could facilitate taxonomic study in tropical developing nations — where most of the Earth's biodiversity is found — and training of local taxonomists.

The United States is the industrialised nation with the highest percentage of taxonomists. For this reason, say the authors, it should address much of the lack of knowledge about species in biodiverse countries. But most US taxonomists are unfamiliar with the CBD and need a better understanding of its regulation of the collection of biological material and international research collaborations.

Link to full letter by R. Geeta et al in Science

Reference: Science 305, 1105 (2004)