Senckenberg Natural History Collections Dresden

Museum of Zoology

Senckenberg Course in Taxonomy and Systematics  2015


"Theory without Facts is fantasy, but Facts without Theory is chaos"

Charles O. Whitman



The Senckenberg Course in Taxonomy and Systematics is offered through the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung as a two-week professional training course that covers relevant aspects of taxonomy and systematics through both conceptual and applied approaches. All activities are under the stewardship of Senckenberg Research Field I: Biodiversity & Sytematics and associated staff will provide the relevant scientific services.


The course will be offered for the first time from February 22nd through March 08th 2015.


Background and Motivation


Taxonomy and systematics are disciplines that identify, describe, classify and name extant and extinct species and taxa and unravel the phylogenetic relationships between them. The terms “taxonomy” and “systematics” are often used synonymous and the actual necessity to distinguish between both terms is subject to debate. Regardless of the respective point of view, both disciplines are recognized within the scope of modern bioscience.

It is a general feeling of many researchers that the science of identifying, classifying and naming taxa is not well appreciated. This may be surprising as the correct classification of taxa and therefore the definition of organismic units is indisputably the fundamental prerequisite for any biodiversity research.

We are confronted with a tremendous progress in all fields of biosciences and we experience the rise of new concepts, methods, and technologies with unprecendented speed. These rapid developments require a complex synthesis of knowledge . We feel that modern taxonomy and sytematics must take a proactive role in this process. This can be considered the major challenge these disciplines have to tackle in the future. Thus an integrative approach is of paramount importance to address this challenge adequately. However, “integrative taxonomy and systematics” need to be embedded in scientific concepts (e.g., species concepts) and conventions (e.g., nomenclature).



The course aims at providing both theory and practical approaches to cutting edge topics in the field of taxonomy and systematics. Throughout an intensive two weeks course we will discuss the basic concepts and conventions of taxonomy and introduce participants to a wide range of both traditional and newly emerging methods used to address complex problems in this field.

The goal is  to provide “a toolbox” which enables participants to develop their own topics and ideas within the appropriate conceptual framework and by using appropriate methods.