Thursday, August 24, 2017

The (r)evolution of coral taxonomy will not be televised.

July 8, 2013 by  
Filed under blog, Taxonomy

Taxonomy changes exampleCoral taxonomy, the science that underpins the art of coral identification is in flux. A quiet revolution is underway as researchers using molecular techniques are turning our traditional understanding of coral taxonomy upside down. While some taxa are unaffected there will definitely be some dramatic upheavals to certain areas of coral taxonomy. New families are being created, many genera are being moved between families and once “well known” species are being shown to be “species complexes”.

At the moment the story is scattered across many publications / journals and because it is written in a mix of molecular, genetic and taxonomic dialects, it is hard for the beginner to grapple with.

The good news however is that learning the basics of coral identification using the Coral Finder Toolkit (via Coral Finder workshops) remains the best approach and most practical way to learn. I will continue to synthesise the changes and revisions to the old classical taxonomy as they arise and incorporate them into CICBP workshops going forward.

As promised in my Coral Finder workshop here is a download link to some key resources (zip folder containing various PDFs and Word files, size: 122MB) for both the old and the new taxonomy. Apart form a smorgasbord of the new molecular literature I’ve also included the “classic” Scleractinia treatise of Wells, 1956 – the starting point for anyone interested in hard coral taxonomy. Enjoy!.

Russell Kelley

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