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Integrative taxonomy: ghosts of past, present and future

  • Liza Gómez Daglio (a1) and Michael N Dawson (a1)


Describing species has been a formal, intellectually rich and influential applied and basic area of study for many of the past 260 years. While formally described eukaryotic diversity still falls short of estimated eukaryotic species diversity by many hundreds of thousands of species, some recent accounts have suggested a growing number of taxonomists are within reach of describing all extant species. We present a case study that illustrates, to the contrary, a recent ‘taxonomic impediment’ in part attributable to derogation of taxonomy as a scientific discipline: contemporary practice has re-interpreted taxonomy largely as an endeavour in enumerating species. We argue that challenges lie in (1) a poor understanding of taxonomy's epistemology; (2) excessive displacement of interest toward ecological or molecular studies; (3) over-interpretation of the contributions of multiple authors describing a species; and (4) perspectives that are strongly influenced by well-known taxa. The historical and recent literature on scyphozoans reveal ghosts of taxonomy's past that persist in the present, but suggest also that a renaissance enabled by integrative taxonomy is possible in the (near) future.


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Author for correspondence: Liza Gómez Daglio, E-mail:


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Integrative taxonomy: ghosts of past, present and future

  • Liza Gómez Daglio (a1) and Michael N Dawson (a1)


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