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Experts gather in lead-up to Darwin Day

Professor Stephen Garnett
CDU conservation biologist Professor Stephen Garnett has convened international experts to discuss the “Principles for creating a single authoritative list of the world’s taxa”.

International biologists, including a mammal expert from the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria, will gather at Charles Darwin University in the run-up to the university’s celebration this week of its namesake Charles Darwin.

Funded by the International Union for Biological Sciences, the workshop and discussions will focus on the governance of species lists that underpin global biodiversity conservation.

Meeting convenor and CDU conservation biologist Professor Stephen Garnett said the experts would convene to discuss the “Principles for creating a single authoritative list of the world’s taxa”.

“Species lists are issued by governments the world over but differences in the ways people think of species means some lists are longer than others,” Professor Garnett said. “Our workshop is about developing rules to help people chose which lists reflect the best science.

“For conservation this is vital,” he said. “If a species is recognised and gets listed it may get funded and conserved. Species that are overlooked because of poor taxonomy may get no attention and go extinct.”

Professor Garnett said the prestigious group included curator of the Mammal Collection at the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria, Dr Frank Zachos, who also would speak at CDU’s Darwin Day celebrations on Wednesday, 12 February.

Dr Zachos’ main research focus is on mammal biology and will speak on the importance of taxonomy in his presentation titled “What is a species? Problems and answers in Darwin’s time and today”.

The conference will run from 10 to 12 February. CDU’s Darwin Day celebrations will be held on Wednesday, 12 February from 10am to 11:30am in the Mal Nairn Auditorium, Casuarina campus.