IBOY (fwd)

Peter Rauch anamaria at GRINNELL.BERKELEY.EDU
Thu Feb 19 13:33:00 CST 1998

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 16:13:20 -0400
From: Joel Cracraft <jlc at amnh.org>
To TAXACOM-Request at cmsa.Berkeley.EDU

Colleagues: would you please post this message on Taxacom. Thanks, Joel


As you may know, Systematics Agenda 2000 has now expanded internationally
and is a program of the International Union of Biological Sciences and
serves as the systematics program element of Diversitas, the international
biodiversity science program.  One of the initiatives Diversitas is
considering is an International Biodiversity Observation Year (IBOY),
probably to begin in 2001 and to last one or, perhaps, two years.  You can
get more information about Diversitas and IBOY at
http://www.lmcp.jussieu.fr/icsu/DIVERSITAS/ .

We are starting to assemble some ideas for systematics projects within the
IBOY context.  We see the following characteristics of such projects: (1)
they must be international in scope, or at least engage systematists in
many different countries; (2) ideally, they should be fundable locally as
finding international funding may prove to be difficult (but, if the
project is snazzy, then we may be able to find some general administrative
funding [for program costs, conferences, publications]; these projects
should not, however, be seen as a place where individuals can go for funds
for their own research).  Thus, it is hoped individual scientists will see
themselves as contributors to a global project; (3) they should be broad
conceptually, should be able to produce results over the time period, but
not necessarily (indeed, almost certainly will not) be expected to be
completed.  Thus, an IBOY project might launch a longer-term global
research effort.

In consultation with other colleagues we have begun to assemble a possible
list of projects to be discussed more broadly at a Diversitas planning
session next month in Mexico City.   We would, first, like to share some
possible ideas with you, and get your reaction to them; and second, to
solicit any other ideas you might have.  We hope by sending this message
over various systematics listserves that we can engage a large segment of
the systematic community.

Here are some nascent ideas.  They are really just ideas and have not been
thought out in any detail, so several may sound a bit far-fetched at first.

1. How many species are there?  This project would design some experiments
(inventories), to be performed in selected habitats around the world, using
standardized methods to estimate numbers of species for key selected taxa.
The goal is to narrow our estimate of the world's species diversity (is it
close to 10 million, 20, 30, or what) and to achieve a better understanding
of patterns of diversity.  Among many other things.  It has been suggest
that this project might be undertaken in UNESCO's Biosphere Reserves or in
other protected areas.

2. Where are the world's diversity "hotspots"?  This project, similar in
some ways to the first, would attempt to refine our understanding of high
diversity areas.

3. A summary of current phylogenetic knowledge.  A major project could be
undertaken to bring together, in electronic format, the expanding
literature and summarize our understanding of phylogenetic relationships.
Efforts like this are underway, and SA2000/I has already discussed one or
more projects with this theme.

4. The systematics of invasive species.  The problem of invasive species is
growing exponentially.  Ecologists and others are organizing major
international research initiatives on invasives, but as of now the input of
systematists into these efforts are not what they should be.  A coordinated
effort could be made to address this problem from a number of different
perspectives.  Perhaps a major international research program could be
launched that would help coordinate activities along these lines.
5. Discovering Earth's "missing" diversity.  This could be part of
suggestion 1 or 2.  It would involve one or more (probably several) high
profile international expeditions to a snazzy place that is poorly known in
terms of its biodiversity.  These expeditions would call attention to the
need for inventories and highlight new discoveries.

6. Putting collections to work.  We could sponsor a highly visible program
of databasing biodiversity for a country (or region) and make it GIS
accessible, much like what Mexico has been doing the past few years.  This
would demonstrate the importance of collections and institutions and make
an invaluable contribution to the conservation and management of a country
or region.

These are examples of some of the proposed projects.  SA2000/I would be
particularly interested in projects that can engage scientists in the
developing regions of the world and may result in increased capacity
building and training in those areas.  If you have comments on the above
(tell us if any of the above projects seem especially appealing), or have
new ideas, please send your thoughts by 7 March to both Michael Donoghue
(mdonoghue at oeb.harvard.edu) and Joel Cracraft (jlc at amnh.org).  Thanks in
advance for your input.

Joel Cracraft
Department of Ornithology
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, New York 10024

Phone: (212) 769-5633
Fax:   (212) 769-5759
e-mail: JLC at amnh.org
        cracraft at amnh.org

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