E-taxonomy, or web-taxonomy, takes advantage of the internet as a medium to connect taxonomists working on the same group of organisms and allow them to publish descriptions, taxonomic hypotheses, and results in forms which can be referenced, re-used, and integrated into a growing web of information about biodiversity.
Why is e-taxonomy important?
Taxonomy involves the organisation of large amounts of information, and the solutions that Linnaeus and his followers came up with over the last 200 years have done a fabulous job in imposing order on chaos and giving us a means of talking about the diversity of life on earth. But before the web so much of this information was difficult to find and technical, hidden in journals that very few libraries held. What is so exciting about modern biodiversity informatics is that this information can be shared so much more easily, making the lives of scientists more straightforward, but also democratising the subject, allowing everyone access to the science and providing an opportunity for those that are interested to make valuable contributions. But it is important not to underestimate the vast task of transferring biodiversity information to the web, not just moving data from paper to digital form, but also the institutional and social challenges of doing an old science in a new way.
Mayo et al 2008. Alpha e-taxonomy: responses from the systematics community to the biodiversity crisis. Kew Bulletin 63: 1-16. doi:10.1007/s12225-008-9014-1
Godfray et al 2007. The Web and the Structure of Taxonomy. Systematic Biology 56: 943-955. doi: 10.1080/10635150701777521