AoB PLANTS

Hitting the right target: taxonomic challenges for, and of, plant invasions

Primroses (genus Oenothera) are one of the group where it is difficult to align taxa invasive in Europe to their native North American counterparts.
Primroses (genus Oenothera) are one of the group where it is difficult to align taxa invasive in Europe to their native North American counterparts.

Taxonomic resources are essential for the effective management of invasive plants because biosecurity strategies, legislation dealing with invasive species, quarantine, weed surveillance and monitoring all depend on accurate and rapid identification of non-native taxa, and incorrect identifications can impede ecological studies. On the other hand, biological invasions have provided important tests of basic theories about species concepts. Modern taxonomy therefore needs to integrate both classical and new concepts and approaches to improve the accuracy of species identification and further refine taxonomic classification at the level of populations and genotypes in the field and laboratory. In a recent review in AoB PLANTS, Pysek et al. explore how a lack of taxonomic expertise, and by implication a dearth of taxonomic products such as identification tools, has hindered progress in understanding and managing biological invasions. They also explore how the taxonomic endeavour could benefit from studies of invasive species.

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