Embargo: Immediate Tuesday 18 December 2007

Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659


The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee have today announced a Call for Evidence for their follow -up inquiry to 2002's report, What on Earth? The Threat to the Science Underpinning Conservation.

The Committee's follow-up inquiry will focus on systematic biology research and taxonomy and will look at the UK's record in developing these areas and in maintaining and disseminating this knowledge. The inquiry will also consider the impact of developments in molecular techniques and what effect this has had on systematic research.

Some of the areas the Committee will seek responses on include:

  • What is the state of systematics research and taxonomy in the UK? What are the current research priorities? What are the barriers, if any, to delivering these priorities?

  • What role do systematics and taxonomy play in research into biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services and climate change? Is that role recognised in the funding process?

  • Does the way in which systematics research is organised, co-ordinated and funded best meet the needs of the user community?

  • What is the role of the major museums and collections in taxonomy research? How are taxonomic collections curated and funded?

  • What progress has been made in developing web based taxonomy? What can be done to ensure web based taxonomy is reliable and of high quality?

  • Does the UK have adequate numbers of trained taxonomists? What is the state of training and education in systematics and taxonomy?

Commenting Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, Chairman of the Lords Science and Technology Committee, said:

"Our 2002 report highlighted a serious shortage in resources devoted to systematics and taxonomic research. We found a science that was short of sustained levels of funding and that was lacking co-ordination.

"Our follow up report will look in detail at what progress has been made since 2002 and whether the steps we recommended have been followed up. We would be pleased to receive evidence from any interested groups."

Notes to Editors

1. The full Call for Evidence can be found online at

2. The deadline for the submission of written evidence is 4 February 2008.

3. The members of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee are:

Lord Sutherland of Houndwood (Chairman)

Lord Colwyn

Lord Crickhowell

Lord Haskel

Lord Howie of Troon

Lord Krebs

Lord May of Oxford

Lord Methuen

Earl of Northesk

Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan

Lord Patel

Earl of Selborne

Lord Taverne

Lord Warner