The future of taxonomic expertise in Europe

Nikolaj Scharff nscharff at ZMUC.KU.DK
Tue Feb 1 02:09:54 CST 2000

The future of taxonomic expertise in Europe: a new generation of
researchers is needed

The lack of experts on the taxonomy of most groups of living (and fossil)
organisms is a major global concern, as expressed, i.a., by Systematics
Agenda 2000 International
<> and the Darwin
declaration (
<> The Consortium of
European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF) is particularly concerned by the
decline of taxonomic expertise in Europe. Since taxonomy was founded by
Linnaeus in the 18th century, Europe has been a stronghold of taxonomic
expertise but now, Europe is in a situation where many taxonomists are
approaching retirement age without a new generation of taxonomists being
ready to take their places. It is true that the many newer disciplines of
biological research have been, and still are competing with taxonomy, but
it is equally true that taxonomy still is a living and much-needed basic
research branch. A very large fraction of Earth's living organisms still
remains undescribed; these are therefore not amenable to detailed studies
of their habits, relationships, ecological significance etc. This applies
most dramatically to the tropics (where Europe has a responsibility to be
active) and the deep sea but is also true of several groups of organisms in
several parts of Europe itself.
CETAF therefore wants to promote the education of a new generation of
taxonomists in Europe, as a parallel to the U.S. National Science
Foundation programme "Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy"
(PEET) ( <>.
One step on the way to achieve this goal is to encourage some of Europe's
brilliant young ph.d.'s to apply for a Marie Curie individual fellowship
under the "Improving human research potential and the socio-economic
knowledge base" programme of the Fifth Framework Programme of the European
Commission. Please see <> for the Fifth
Framework Programme in general, and
<> for individual Marie
Curie fellowships in particular.
According to the "Guide for proposers", Marie Curie individual fellowships
are "Fellowships awarded to the best of Europe's young post-doctoral
researchers for high level research training in an institution in a country
other than their own". The duration of Marie Curie individual fellowships
is 12 to 24 months. Applicants from so-called "less-favoured regions" of
Europe may in addition apply for a 12 months' return fellowship.
Applicants must be nationals of a Member State or an Associated State of
the European Union. Member states are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland,
France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands,
Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Associated States are:
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary,
Iceland, Israel, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania,
Slovakia and Slovenia.
Successful applicants are offered a subsistence allowance (salary). The
total monthly allowance (which includes the gross monthly rate and the
social security contributions of the host institution as employer) varies
between countries. Examples: 4.373 euro (Denmark), 3.342 euro (Spain),
4.500 euro (Germany). In addition a monthly mobility allowance of 400 euro
is given, as well as a single travel allowance for return travel expenses
(examples: United Kingdom-Germany: 600 euro, Spain-Denmark: 1200 euro).
Please consult the guide for proposers for further details.
An application for a Marie Curie individual fellowships contains, in
addition to the more administrative parts, three main sections:
1. Description of the research project (to be written by the applicant)
2. Description of the host institution (to be written by the scientist
in charge of the project at the host institution)
3. Curriculum vitae of the applicant (to be written by the applicant).
The member institutions of CETAF can serve as host institutions for Marie
Curie fellowship holders in the field of taxonomy (as well as related
fields), and CETAF wants to encourage interested young researchers to
contact a CETAF institution (or another institution where taxonomic
research is conducted) in order to prepare an application for a Marie Curie
individual fellowship. Please notice that the deadlines for application are
15 March 2000, 13 September 2000, 14 March 2001, 12 September 2001 and 13
March 2002.
A number of CETAF institutions have provided lists of their specialists who
could serve as "mentors" for post-doctoral fellows. These persons can be
contacted directly and will help to write up an application.
The list of potential hosts for scholarships holders within taxonomy s.l.
is attached, as is a document describing CETAF. You can also see these
documents at .

   Henrik Enghoff
   Professor of Zoological Systematics and Zoogeography,
   Director, ZOOLOGISK MUSEUM, Universitetsparken 15,
   DK-2100 Koebenhavn OE, DANMARK.
   Telephone +45 35 32 10 36 (direct) / +45 35 32 10 00.
   Telefax +45 35 32 10 10. E-mail henghoff at

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