taxonomy & Diversity

Taxonomy aims at describing, naming and classifying organisms. It is essential to assess and understand biodiversity. Knowing and describing organisms in sufficient details allows to (i) identify and classify them correctly, (ii) study their biology and ecology, (iii) understand their geographical distribution, evaluate hot spots of diversity and define regions of interest for conservation, and (iv) select species with economic potential. A wrong identification leads to errors in (i) the quantification of biodiversity, (ii) the understanding of biological and ecological processes, (iii) the establishment of conservation areas, and (iv) the selection of species for the industry.

Taxonomy is constantly evolving and dependent on technical progress. For instance the advent of electronic microscopy or biochemical and molecular analyses have led to the evolution of our view and understanding of diversity and the classification of species. Two hundred years ago, phycologists were describing species based on drift fragments collected during the first expeditions around the World (e.g. Turner, 1808, 1809, 1811; C. Agardh, 1820; Montagne, 1845). Today, Oceans have been more comprehensively explored and phycologists study morphological and molecular variations of populations based on dozens of specimens collected at various geographic scales using Scuba (Tatarenkov et al., 2007; Zhao et al., 2007; Cheang et al., 2008), sequence genomes (Oudot-Le Secq et al., 2002, 2006), attempt to identify species using genetic barcodes (Saunders, 2005; Robba et al., 2006; Chase et al., 2007) and uncover cryptic species (Andreakis et al. 2007; Gonzalez et al. 2012).