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Systematics and Taxonomy has a long and important history in the UK, but the changing landscape of education and support for this discipline has led to a steady decline in taxonomic skills. Recently, Manchester Metropolitan University has taken up coordination of the formally named ‘Biological Recording and Species Identification programme’ previously at Birmingham, and now offers the only academic Biological Recording programme in the country, in association with the Field Studies Council and the Botanical Society of the British Isles.

The Royal Society of Biology has long pressed for improved government and research council support for the disciplines of systematics and taxonomy. In 2009, the House of Lords Science and Technology Sub Committee on Systematics and Taxonomy held an inquiry and produced the following report, criticising the fragmented responsibility for systematic biology within Government. They highlighted the importance of the specialism, given climate change and other threats to biodiversity, and recommended that the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) carry out a study on the profession and how to ensure its sustainability. This review was published in 2011.  

Additional Information:

The Linnean Society has a host of information on the importance of taxonomic skills, including resources and worksheets for Secondary level students.  

Society of Biology and British Ecological Society response to the House of Lords science and technology select committee
4 February 2008

Systematics and taxonomy - Article in The Biologist by Barbara Knowles
May 2008

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