Taxonomy and systematics: Contributions to benthology and J-NABS

Ralph W. Holzenthal, Desiree R. Robertson, Steffen U. Pauls, Patina K. Mendez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Systematics, or taxonomy, is the study of the diversity of life on Earth. Its goals are to discover and describe new biological diversity and to understand its evolutionary and biogeographic origins and relationships. Here we review the contributions to the field of systematics and taxonomy published over the last 25 y in J-NABS and its predecessor Freshwater Invertebrate Biology (FIB). We examined a total of 64 studies that we considered to be largely taxonomic in nature. We classified these studies into 2 major categories: morphological (e.g., descriptive taxonomy, taxonomic revisions) and molecular (e.g., deoxyribonucleic acid [DNA] barcoding, population genetics). We examined studies in 5-y increments for J-NABS. We also studied the period 1982 to 1985, during which FIB was published. On average, 12 taxonomic studies were published within each 5-y period. Molecular studies first appeared in 1986 and have slowly increased, reaching their greatest number within the last 5 y. Studies also were classified by their individual attributes. Morphological studies were, by far, the most common, but studies also included molecular data, biological information, distributional data, keys, and biogeographical analyses. Most studies included .1 of these attributes. Overall, the role of J-NABS in the development of benthic taxonomy has been minimal in terms of number of publications, but as part of the nexus of taxomonic literature, all contributions have been important to the discipline. We discuss these contributions and their impact on the following subject areas: taxonomy and revisionary systematics, phylogenetic and molecular systematics, taxonomic resources, taxonomic resolution, conservation and taxonomy, professional training, taxonomic certification, and graduate education. We also give an overview of new developments in the taxonomists’ toolbox. These developments include DNA barcoding, online taxonomic resources, digital identification keys, cybertaxonomy, and modern museum collections and resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-169
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of the North American Benthological Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper is dedicated to the taxonomists who have and will continue to contribute so importantly to the success of J-NABS and to the science of benthology in general. We are grateful to Pamela Silver for inviting us to participate in this anniversary issue. Alan Steinman was of great help in steering us through the process and offered many useful suggestions. The review benefited greatly from the many suggestions, ideas, and insights of our colleagues: Brian Armitage, Roger Blahnik, David Bowles, Atilano Contreras-Ramos, Wills Flowers, Jolanda Huis-man, Karl Kjer, Manny Pescador, Andy Rasmussen, Dave Ruiter, and Johann Waringer. Our sincere appreciation is extended to the following sources of support: University of Minnesota Graduate School Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (DDR), University of Minnesota Graduate School Post-Doctoral Fellowship (PKM), and the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina Fellowship (BMBF-LPD 9901/8-169) (SUP). This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0117772. Additional support came from the University of Minnesota Experiment Station under project numbers 34-15 and 34-17. This support is gratefully acknowledged.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2010 by The North American Benthological Society


  • Benthology
  • Phylogenetics
  • Systematics
  • Taxonomy


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