DNA barcoding and taxonomy: dark taxa and dark texts

Page, R. D.M. (2016) DNA barcoding and taxonomy: dark taxa and dark texts. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371(1702), 20150334. (doi:10.1098/rstb.2015.0334) (PMID:27481786)

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Abstract

Both classical taxonomy and DNA barcoding are engaged in the task of digitizing the living world. Much of the taxonomic literature remains undigitized. The rise of open access publishing this century and the freeing of older literature from the shackles of copyright have greatly increased the online availability of taxonomic descriptions, but much of the literature of the mid- to late-twentieth century remains offline (‘dark texts’). DNA barcoding is generating a wealth of computable data that in many ways are much easier to work with than classical taxonomic descriptions, but many of the sequences are not identified to species level. These ‘dark taxa’ hamper the classical method of integrating biodiversity data, using shared taxonomic names. Voucher specimens are a potential common currency of both the taxonomic literature and sequence databases, and could be used to help link names, literature and sequences. An obstacle to this approach is the lack of stable, resolvable specimen identifiers. The paper concludes with an appeal for a global ‘digital dashboard’ to assess the extent to which biodiversity data are available online. This article is part of the themed issue ‘From DNA barcodes to biomes’.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Page, Professor Roderic
Authors: Page, R. D.M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Publisher:The Royal Society
ISSN:0962-8436
ISSN (Online):1471-2970
Published Online:01 August 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Author
First Published:First published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 371(1702): 20150334
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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