EDIT: The European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy: A network for integration of taxonomy supported by the European Commission


SIMON Tillier1, Walter Berendsohn2, Henrik Enghoff3, Christoph Häuser4, Wouter Los5, Marian Ramos6, Klaus Riede4, Malcolm Scoble7, Jackie Van Goethem8

1 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, CP26, 57 rue Cuvier, 75231 Paris cedex 05, France, edit@mnhn.fr,2 Freie Universitaet Berlin – Botanisches Garten und Botanisches Museum, Berlin, Germany, 3 National Museum of Natural History, Copenhagen, Denmark,4 Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde, Stuttgart, Germany, 5 Netherland Consortium of Taxonomic Facilities, Netherland,

6 Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, Madrid, Spain, 7 Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom, 8 Belgium Consortium of Taxonomic Facilities, Belgium

Taxonomy provides the basis for understanding biodiversity. Overcoming the taxonomic impediment involves both having enough trained taxonomists and having taxonomic information available to those who need to use them. The European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy project, EDIT, is a European Commission sponsored Network of Excellence aimed at starting to overcome the taxonomic impediment through collaboration and joint work programme. Through EDIT we hope to build capacity globally and provide information and tools for use by all. The EDIT proposal is an initiative of the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF) which since 1996 has been working for better integration of the taxonomic effort in Europe.

The project should help to reduce the fragmentation in European taxonomic research and expertise and to co-ordinate the European contribution to the global taxonomic effort, in particular the Global Taxonomy Initiative, through an integrated initiative aimed at improving society’s capacity for biodiversity conservation. EDIT, which is lead by the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, focuses on improvement of both production and delivery of taxonomy through (1) coordination of the research policies of its member institutions, which employ altogether ca 1500 researchers and doctoral students in taxonomy; (2) progression toward integration of their scientific expertise and infrastructures to improve both production and access to taxonomic knowledge and information, within the network as well as in the framework of international structures and initiatives, such as the GBIF and the GTI; and (3) induce cultural change allowing improvement in the production of taxonomic results by building an internet platform for elaboration and publication of collaborative revisions on the web, and making this platform freely available to all taxonomists worldwide.

The EDIT project consists of eight workpackages, dealing with coordination and management (ST), integrating the expert and expertise basis (HE), integrating of infrastructure (WL), research coordination (MR), an internet platform for cybertaxonomy (WB), unification of revisionary taxonomy (MS), applications of taxnomy for conservation (CH) and training and public awareness (JvG)

As a whole, these workpackages address infrastructural, scientific and cultural impediments which hamper both development and availability of taxonomic knowledge. They will facilitate availability of taxonomic data, acquisition of new taxonomic knowledge and support taxonomic capacity building far beyond members of the EDIT consortium, in particular in developing countries.

The EDIT contract will start in early 2006. The EDIT network holds the most comprehensive body of literature, specimens, research and expertise in the world. During five years the network will build up a virtual center of excellence widely opened to users and potentially expandable worldwide.