Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #232632

Title: Situation report on US systematic biology

item Chitwood, David
item Hoberg, Eric
item Rosenthal, Benjamin
item Rossman, Amy
item Solis, M Alma

Submitted to: Systematics Subcommittee of the Federal Interagency Committee on Invasive Terrestrial Animals and Pathogens (ITAP)
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/26/2008
Publication Date: 12/10/2008
Citation: Chitwood, D.J., Diaz-Soltero, H., Hoberg, E.P., Miller, S., Reynolds, R., Rosenthal, B.M., Rossman, A.Y., Sitnik, M., Solis, M.A. 2008. Situation Report on US Systematic Biology. Washington, DC: Systematics Subcommittee of the Federal Interagency Committee on Invasive Terrestrial Animals and Pathogens. p. 1-55. available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Systematics is the science that identifies and groups organisms by understanding their origins, relationships, and distributions. It is fundamental to understanding life on earth, our crops, wildlife, and diseases, and provides the scientific foundation to recognize and manage invasive species. Protecting America’s economy, environment, health, and security against invasive species requires a strong Federal program in systematic biology. Systematics is in crisis. As systematists retire, they are not replaced, and universities train too few professionals in systematics. Furthermore, the biological collections needed to support systematics languish in substandard facilities lacking adequate staffing, technology, and coordination. As a result of this inadequate support, the U.S. cannot effectively manage the threat posed by invasive species. The purpose of this report is to increase awareness of the crisis in systematics and to advocate the need for a permanent, viable, and coordinated Federal Systematics Program. Systematics expertise and use is distributed across the Federal sector so participation will be inclusive; no single agency can serve as the steward for the proposed Systematics Program. The proposed Systematics Program requires four components: research, specimen-based collections, an informatics network, and educating future systematists. These are collectively designed to provide the means to detect, identify, and predict the behavior and consequences of invasive species.