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The integrative future of taxonomy

José M Padial1*, Aurélien Miralles2, Ignacio De la Riva3 and Miguel Vences2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Evolution Genomics and Systematics, Evolutionary Biology Centre (EBC), Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18D, Uppsala 75236, Sweden

2 Department of Evolutionary Biology, Zoological Institute, Technical University of Braunschweig, Spielmannstrasse 8, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany

3 Department of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, C/José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, Madrid 28006, Spain

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Frontiers in Zoology 2010, 7:16  doi:10.1186/1742-9994-7-16

Published: 25 May 2010



Taxonomy is the biological discipline that identifies, describes, classifies and names extant and extinct species and other taxa. Nowadays, species taxonomy is confronted with the challenge to fully incorporate new theory, methods and data from disciplines that study the origin, limits and evolution of species.


Integrative taxonomy has been proposed as a framework to bring together these conceptual and methodological developments. Here we review perspectives for an integrative taxonomy that directly bear on what species are, how they can be discovered, and how much diversity is on Earth.


We conclude that taxonomy needs to be pluralistic to improve species discovery and description, and to develop novel protocols to produce the much-needed inventory of life in a reasonable time. To cope with the large number of candidate species revealed by molecular studies of eukaryotes, we propose a classification scheme for those units that will facilitate the subsequent assembly of data sets for the formal description of new species under the Linnaean system, and will ultimately integrate the activities of taxonomists and molecular biologists.