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The future for taxonomic description

General taxonomic publications:

Currently, Single species or subspecies (in ca. 3 % of all taxonomical papers) descriptions are published alone as a short paper or note, or may be combined with more extensive data on morphology, reproduction, ecology etc. The latter is accepted in a wider range of journals than strictly taxonomical papers. Re-descriptions of a species involve examination of existing material and resources in order to make a more complete description of a previous described species. Such accounts are often formatted in a way similar to original species descriptions.

Articles may be:

  • Synopsis articles which give a general view, and summarize current knowledge of classification, terminology, morphology and ecology of a group, as well as presenting keys to species.
  • Reviews which critically examine previous work and material on a group. They bring together current information on the group, often in conjunction with description of new species, but do not include the details of a revision or monograph.
  • Taxonomical catalogues which are complete lists of items arranged in an organized way, each item accompanied by descriptive details. They usually describe the specimens or a species of a group of organisms that are found in the collection of a particular collection or museum. Alternatively, they may just list species, or their status, and include a species description. Catalogues may also be used for taxonomic publication discussing all the species reported from a region or host.
  • Revisions which set out to re-examine a group to correct or improve the diagnosis, description, or phylogeny. Complete descriptions are usually given for all species, whether or not they have been described before.
  • Monographs which are the most comprehensive systematic reports, along with full descriptions, they include whatever is known worldwide of the life history traits, ecology and distribution of the group. Often published as a book or a monograph series of a museum, they document the authors own research on the group.
  • Classifications and phylogenies which synthesize the evolutionary relationships of a group, and may or may not also describe new taxa.
  • Faunas which also may give full descriptions but stressing the characteristics of local populations or limiting the discussion to a particular geographical region. Field guides, identification handbooks and checklists are similar to faunas as they cover a limited area but differ emphasize illustrations and keys and often use simplified descriptions to aspects of biology that can be observed in life.
  • Miscellaneous research publications which may be entirely or partly taxonomic in nature giving notes on taxonomy in conjunction with other biological research.

Generally, parasite taxonomists when describing a species:

  • Select specimens to be described from samples collected from specific host populations in specific localities.
  • Fix and conserve specimens for morphological and genetic investigations, and for storage in museum collections.
  • Identify the host species, and observe and record data about infected hosts. In certain areas this may require additional taxonomic studies of the hosts.
  • Observe and record data about the specific infection conditions, ecology and epidemiology of the parasite taxon being described.
  • Study/ measure/ examine morphology and genetics.
  • Assemble all data already recorded about the particular parasite group in question.
  • Compare (usually statistically) the morphological and genetical characteristics of the varying groups, with attention to the nature and level of similarities and differences.
  • Interpret the relationships revealed in terms of basic taxonomical concepts as polymorphism, homology, parallelism, convergence, primitiveness (plesiomorphy) or specialization (apomorphy).
  • Analyze the variation in the data before sorting the parasite into a taxonomic unit: superspecies, species, subspecies (deme), strain, ecotype, variety (form, morphotype), based on a certain species concept. Then translate conclusions into hierachic terms and taxa of a certain rank. The analysis is statistical in principle.
  • Selects a holotype among the paratypes of a collection if a new species.
  • Describe the important holotype (i.e. the name bearing type, principal basis for the description and definition of taxa, which serves as standard for comparison and identification of other specimens belonging to the same taxon).
  • Selects a name for the new holotype according to the Code of Nomenclature www.iczn.org).
  • Eventually make inferences as to the evolutionary pattern (phylogeny) and, if more populations are studied, construct a phylogenetic tree.
  • Submit the holotype and syntypes for storage in a museum.
  • Submit morphological data to the MorphBank
  • Submit sequence data to GenBank www.ebi.ac.uk

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