Do you think that traditional taxonomic skills and natural history research are still important? Should we be concerned that the use of eDNA could lead to a loss of taxonomic skills in the scientific community?
There are many reasons why morphological taxonomy is still important. For a start, molecular taxonomy in the sense that we use it relies on a reference database underpinned by traditional taxonomy – and this will always be the case. Molecular taxonomy can’t on its own discover and describe new species – that will always rely on traditional taxonomic skills. There are simply not enough taxonomists in the world to be able to generate the monitoring data that we need at the scales we need it to underpin decision-making – especially in the tropics – so there is a need for new tools and approaches. We believe that widespread adoption of molecular tools will actually highlight the need for good taxonomists.
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