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Type: Editorial
Published: 2023-04-27
Page range: 1–14
Abstract views: 811
PDF downloaded: 735

A plea for preregistration in taxonomy

Corresponding author and joint first author. Institut Supérieur de Philosophie, Université Catholique de Louvain, Collège Désiré Mercier, Pl. Cardinal Mercier 14, 1348 Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium
Joint first author. Research Group Zoology: Biodiversity and Toxicology, Centre for Environmental Sciences, Hasselt University, Agoralaan Gebouw D, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium, Centre For Logic and Philosophy of Science, KU Leuven, Kardinaal Mercierplein 2, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
Natural History Museum Vienna, Burgring 7, 1010 Vienna, Austria, Department of Genetics, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, Park West, Bloemfontein 9301, South Africa, Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Vienna, Djerassiplatz 1, 1030 Vienna, Austria
Research Group Zoology: Biodiversity and Toxicology, Centre for Environmental Sciences, Hasselt University, Agoralaan Gebouw D, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium
Research Group Zoology: Biodiversity and Toxicology, Centre for Environmental Sciences, Hasselt University, Agoralaan Gebouw D, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, OD Taxonomy and Phylogeny, Vautierstraat 29, 1000 Brussels, Belgium


There are notoriously many different definitions of species and methods of species delimitation, forcing taxonomists to make a long range of methodological decisions in species delimitation. Because of this, there are sometimes multiple viable competing methodological paths, which could lead to different ranking (or even grouping) decisions. As a result, it is often unclear what it means for a group to be recognized as a species, the groups recognized as species are not always comparable, and some have even called ranking decisions ‘subjective’. To mitigate the problems this causes for users of taxonomy and taxonomists, we propose that taxonomists across the tree of life should start preregistering their research design and criteria for species delimitation in advance of their research. We argue that even if it were to require additional effort, preregistering taxonomic research would strongly benefit taxonomy in the long term, by increasing the transparency and usability of taxonomic outcomes and by reducing the need for ad hoc methodological decisions.


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