Undervaluation of systematic biology

Lack of emphasis on scientific taxonomy
Anonymous species
Unnamed living organisms
In recent years there has been a significant reduction in the teaching of systematics in schools and universities. The decline in resources for a continued systematic activity in many, if not most, countries of the world, has been gradual but unrelieved. Universities and government bodies tend to reduce positions for taxonomists/systematists in teaching and research when budget cuts are made. Funding for research projects and congresses is diminishing considerably. In response, students do not see systematics as a secure and exciting professional discipline. The resulting decline in systematic activity and expertise is harming areas of applied science which rely on taxonomic research, such as work on disease vectors, biological conservation or agricultural pest control. The fields of biotechnology and petro-geology also require strong systematic support. The limited pool of trained systematists may be attracted to such commercially-profitable fields rather than work in the less well-funded areas supporting public health or wildlife conservation.
Systematics is the science involving the naming and classification of living organisms, past or present, and understanding how they have evolved through time and how they function ecologically, biochemically and physiologically. The classification aspect of systematics, called taxonomy, is the basal reference system of biology. It provides an infrastructure which integrates research in ecology, functional morphology, behaviour, genetics and molecular biology, much of which has agricultural, industrial and medical importance. Also, at a fundamental level, systematics explores and reveals the processes of evolution and of ecological and functional interactions. This involves the observation, description and interpretation of patterns of natural variation, and also uses experimental and laboratory studies. In its present form, systematic biology (including palaeontology) has proceeded as a continuously building body of scientific knowledge for over two centuries and has underpinned the diversification of the modern biological sciences.
Available systematists are unable to satisfy the demand for their services. The situation is clearly critical when it is considered that only 1.5 million of the estimated 30 million species alive today have been described.
1. You cannot manage the environment until you know the nature of what you are going to manage.

2. Scientific progress has relegated the systematic natural historian, beloved of the 18th and 19th centuries, to the position of an inferior generalist -- who knows "little about a lot" or knows "a lot about the irrelevant". At the same time it has devalued the specialist taxonomic biologist in favour of those working in areas of scientific fashions and booms (such as the explosion of support for global atmospheric science in the wake of the greenhouse scare).

4. Naming is very important. We interfere so much with habitats that we must understand these organisms and how we can ensure their survival.

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(D) Detailed problems