Plenary Presentation Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2022

Taxonomy as the foundation and synapses for fish biology (#112)

Michael Hammer 1
  1. Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT, Australia

The diversity of life can provide a source of amazement and wonder, being especially pronounced for fishes through variety in shape, colour and biology. Species are the unit of measurement for biodiversity that best connects scientists, managers and the community, and the ongoing task to document and understand species is critical given accelerating anthropogenic environmental change. But the science of taxonomy to define species remains in the background, often perceived as dry, technical, specialised and somewhat confusing. This presentation aims to explore why resolved taxonomy is a principal foundation of all biological research and provide ideas on how to change its perception, to reinvigorate taxonomy, and encourage growth and better integration within fish biology. A first key pillar for this lies with a combined lines of evidence approach to defining species, where morphological, genetic/phylogenetic, biogeographical, ecological and cultural information form a picture of how a taxon can be defined within the environment. In short good taxonomy creates good science, and striving for a better understanding of what defines species should spark ideas and collaborations between disciplines, to drive a positive feedback loop that in turn supports collections based research. The second key pillar is science communication, to provide modern and appealing tools, imagery and stories to inspire stakeholders to develop an eye for detail. This discussion will be underpinned by different examples of species discovery, ID tool-development, reflections of time on Country, and citizen science.