Research Topic

Recent and Emerging Innovations in Deep-Sea Taxonomy to Enhance Biodiversity Assessment and Conservation

About this Research Topic

As the largest habitat on Earth, the deep-sea floor supports an immense, but largely undiscovered diversity of habitats and species. At the same time, man-made pressures on great ocean depths are continuously increasing and the consequences for the resident biota are scarcely known. In light of the biodiversity crisis, when taxa undergo extinction before they have been even discovered, there is an urgent need for fast and more effective biodiversity discovery and description. A robust taxonomic identification and classification is key to studying life and its structure, functioning and evolution. But, “descriptive taxonomy is not just a service agency for the rest of biology. Its product is far more than a stock inventory of Earth’s biodiversity.” (Wilson, E.O., 2004). Rather, the field of taxonomy plays a pivotal role in pushing one of the last frontiers for a global deep-sea biodiversity assessment, while constantly evolving and reinventing itself.

The primary goal of this Research Topic is to outline and promote innovations and diverse ways of overcoming impediments in deep-sea taxonomic research. It is meant to foster integration of taxonomy with deep-sea biodiversity and conservation research. Overall, there is an imbalance between the urge to rapidly acquire taxonomic information for preserving deep-sea ecosystems, while (purely) taxonomic resources are declining. Linnean taxonomists and their invaluable knowledge are taking a back seat. At the same time, the advent of modern genetic, modeling and visualization techniques offer powerful tools for species delineation. However, the surge in methodological complexity and alternative description methods make taxonomic work and cross-study comparisons increasingly difficult and time-consuming. This applies all the more to deep-sea research, where a high undescribed diversity meets a low sampling coverage. With this in mind, the following questions, among others, should be addressed: How can we increase speed of taxonomic identification, while maintaining taxonomic accuracy? How to increase the value of taxonomic revisions, representing the criterion standard in taxonomy? Can we define procedural and data standards for taxonomic descriptions? How to facilitate data sharing and exchange between taxonomists, conservation agencies, policymakers and the general public?

The focus of this Research Topic is to collate original articles, (mini-) reviews, opinion papers and perspectives on advances in the field of deep-sea taxonomy, with objectives including but not limited to:

• Deep-sea taxonomics (metagenomics, proteomics)
• Imaging & visualization techniques (e.g., CLSM, micro-CT, 3D printing)
• Underwater imagery and automated species classification
• Bioinformatics, species delimitation modeling
• Integrative taxonomy
• Linnean taxonomy
• Role of taxonomy in conservation planning
• Deep-sea specific impediments in taxonomic research
• Citizen science: pitfalls vs. opportunities
• Role of natural history collections (data basing & species cataloging, cybertaxonomy, data integration, -standards and -digitization, Big Data)
• Taxonomic revisions: new support for the criterion standard of taxonomy

Taxonomic species descriptions are only considered as part of a more comprehensive approach to assessing progress in deep-sea taxonomic research.


Keywords: Classical taxonomy, DNA taxonomy, data accessibility and standards, innovation, anthropogenic impacts


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

As the largest habitat on Earth, the deep-sea floor supports an immense, but largely undiscovered diversity of habitats and species. At the same time, man-made pressures on great ocean depths are continuously increasing and the consequences for the resident biota are scarcely known. In light of the biodiversity crisis, when taxa undergo extinction before they have been even discovered, there is an urgent need for fast and more effective biodiversity discovery and description. A robust taxonomic identification and classification is key to studying life and its structure, functioning and evolution. But, “descriptive taxonomy is not just a service agency for the rest of biology. Its product is far more than a stock inventory of Earth’s biodiversity.” (Wilson, E.O., 2004). Rather, the field of taxonomy plays a pivotal role in pushing one of the last frontiers for a global deep-sea biodiversity assessment, while constantly evolving and reinventing itself.

The primary goal of this Research Topic is to outline and promote innovations and diverse ways of overcoming impediments in deep-sea taxonomic research. It is meant to foster integration of taxonomy with deep-sea biodiversity and conservation research. Overall, there is an imbalance between the urge to rapidly acquire taxonomic information for preserving deep-sea ecosystems, while (purely) taxonomic resources are declining. Linnean taxonomists and their invaluable knowledge are taking a back seat. At the same time, the advent of modern genetic, modeling and visualization techniques offer powerful tools for species delineation. However, the surge in methodological complexity and alternative description methods make taxonomic work and cross-study comparisons increasingly difficult and time-consuming. This applies all the more to deep-sea research, where a high undescribed diversity meets a low sampling coverage. With this in mind, the following questions, among others, should be addressed: How can we increase speed of taxonomic identification, while maintaining taxonomic accuracy? How to increase the value of taxonomic revisions, representing the criterion standard in taxonomy? Can we define procedural and data standards for taxonomic descriptions? How to facilitate data sharing and exchange between taxonomists, conservation agencies, policymakers and the general public?

The focus of this Research Topic is to collate original articles, (mini-) reviews, opinion papers and perspectives on advances in the field of deep-sea taxonomy, with objectives including but not limited to:

• Deep-sea taxonomics (metagenomics, proteomics)
• Imaging & visualization techniques (e.g., CLSM, micro-CT, 3D printing)
• Underwater imagery and automated species classification
• Bioinformatics, species delimitation modeling
• Integrative taxonomy
• Linnean taxonomy
• Role of taxonomy in conservation planning
• Deep-sea specific impediments in taxonomic research
• Citizen science: pitfalls vs. opportunities
• Role of natural history collections (data basing & species cataloging, cybertaxonomy, data integration, -standards and -digitization, Big Data)
• Taxonomic revisions: new support for the criterion standard of taxonomy

Taxonomic species descriptions are only considered as part of a more comprehensive approach to assessing progress in deep-sea taxonomic research.


Keywords: Classical taxonomy, DNA taxonomy, data accessibility and standards, innovation, anthropogenic impacts


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

18 January 2021 Abstract
18 May 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

18 January 2021 Abstract
18 May 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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