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Nathan Lujan

Leave taxonomy to the taxonomists and biologists: Q & A with Nathan Lujan

Wednesday, March 14 - 2018
Raquel A. Russell
A recent article proposing a radical change in the way species are named has drawn the ire of 184 scientists worldwide Ė two of which are from the University of Toronto.

The article calls for a governing body of non-scientists to make the final call on the assignment of names to species. The authors argue that a lack of governance over taxonomy threatens the effectiveness of global efforts to halt biodiversity loss, is expensive, and damages the credibility of science.

But evolutionary biologists and taxonomists argue that this and other elements of the proposal show a misunderstanding of the fundamental practices of taxonomic work. Nathan Lujan, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biology at U of T Scarborough and former NSF International Research Fellow at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), and Tim Dickinson, Associate Professor in U of Tís Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department and Senior Curator Emeritus in the ROMís Green Plant Herbarium, are among those voices. They joined co-authors from 37 countries to refute the proposals made by Stephen Garnett and Les Christidis.