Taxonomy: no decline, but inertia


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The recent literature is rich in papers sounding the alarm about taxonomy. We analyzed data from the Zoological Record (1864–2010 and 1978–2010) to show that we cannot speak of a decline. The number of authors describing new species is growing, along with the number of articles describing new species and the number of new species. We also observed a growing interdisciplinarity and a change in the number of species described per author, suggesting that taxonomy is experiencing new ways of doing research. The modalities of these changes remain to be explored. It is therefore more pertinent to speak not of a decline, i.e. of a degradation relative to a previous situation, but of inadequacy relative to its objective, namely the scientific inventory and classification of the planet's living taxa.