Integrative taxonomy aims to delimit biodiversity from multiple and complementary perspectives: phylogeography, morphology, population genetics, ecology, development, and behaviour, among others. Applied to marine planktonic assemblages, the overarching goal of this emergent science is to yield new understanding of the taxonomy, systematics, and biodiversity of marine life. Assessment of planktonic diversity via high-throughput sequencing of environmental samples or metabarcoding (large-scale analysis of taxon richness via the analysis of homologous genes) is proving to be increasingly accurate, reliable and cost-effective. However, comparison and combination with classical morphological taxonomic analysis of plankton samples will continue to be necessary and important.
Although the taxonomy and phylogeny of some planktonic groups may eventually be revised with the addition of molecular characters, traditional approaches based on morphology will not be replaced, only enhanced and augmented. Future prospects include sophisticated, powerful, and integrative analysis of morphological, molecular, biochemical, ecological, and geographic data to characterize planktonic biodiversity. Remaining challenges for integrative taxonomy include consistent discrimination of species – even closely related, cryptic, and rare species – based on high-throughput sequencing and accurate identification of taxa by comparison with reference sequence databases based on identified specimens.
This session will examine a broad range of methodologies, provide overviews of recent results using diverse types of data, and encourage discussion on opportunities and challenges of integrative taxonomy of marine planktonic assemblages.
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