Saturday, September 27, 2008

Invasive Species Issues need ITAP

The complexities of invasive species issues demand that we know what we are talking about, that we actually can identify the organisms which we find and that we have some awareness of their relationships to their native ecosystems, so that we can better understand the implications of possible introductions to alien ecosystems. To this end, we have ITAP, Federal Interagency Committee on Invasive Terrestrial Animals and Pathogens.

"ITAP's mission is to support and facilitate more efficient networking and sharing of technical information for program planning and coordination among Federal Agencies and Departments involved with invasive species research and management. ITAP focuses on several major taxonomic groups of invasive species for which improved technical coordination is essential to facilitate effective Federal responses. ITAP's mission parallels and complements the missions of the Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds (FICMNEW) and the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force (ANSTF)."

The lack of understanding which accompanies systematics, the core of all identification id abysmal. This lack of support is resulting in a decline of taxonomic programs, and a looming problem as experienced systematics professionals retire with no specialists to follow. The various collections of the United States, and the world are in various states of decline. Somehow, we think that everything we need to know is on the Internet and that a "Google" search will tell us everything. But "Google" can not replace the type collections; it cannot replace the actual specimen, and without on ogin research it cannot update information that is critical to invasive species decision making.

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