Taxonomy Training Programme

The MSSBG 2020 Taxonomy Training Programme has been postponed to the summer vacation of 2021 due to Covid -19. The training is will be conducted at MSSRF’s Botanic Garden premises in Wayanad district of Kerala. The core objective of the training workshop is to make a new generation of Taxonomists and Naturalists who are skilled to engage in the study and conservation of the Rare, Endemic and Threatened species of India. The training on Plant taxonomy combines both academic and parataxonomic domains and offers to gain skills in systematic identification of wild plant species, preparation of taxonomic keys, writing professional taxonomic descriptions, floristic illustrations & field photography and scientific collection and preservation of materials for gardens and herbariums. The workshop sessions will be handled by a diverse group of experts in Plant Taxonomy.  will also have invited lectures, group discussions, and field trips. The trainees will be introduced to a priority group of 100 Rare, Endemic and Threatened plants and would engage them in growing these dying trees as a post-training activity back home.

Are you interested in knowing the diversity in Plant, bird, insect, reptile, amphibians, or such species around you?

As a teacher and student, do you want to improve your teaching and learning skills in taxonomy in an easier and enjoyable manner?

Here is a Way for you!

A new strategy and environment for practicing biodiversity conservation, and Learning taxonomy. It is feared taxonomy will become an “extinct” science in many of the developing countries unless there are concerted efforts. India, being a mega biodiversity country, it cannot allow happening that kind of a doom scenario!

MSSRF’s Training to make new generation Taxonomists to Save the Rare, Endemic and Threatened Species of India

Species are fast disappearing——- So are the Taxonomists describing them….!

Approximately one Million Species are threatened with Extinction. So are the taxonomists describing them. When a species disappears from this earth, it is not only taking away its’ millions of years of genetic history but possibly the unexploited million-dollar value of its services too.

Cynometra beddomei

Taxonomists- are those who discover, describe, and define our fellow species living on Earth! Unfortunately, as in the case of the wild species endangerment, taxonomists are also becoming an endangered species in this world! This is happening when it has estimated that at least another 10-12 million species are yet to be discovered and described.

Over 80% of the undescribed species are in the tropical world.

But, where are those taxonomists or skilled people who can discover them?

One million Species are threatened with Extinction! Many Ecosystems are in the brim of a collapse!

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) estimated that one million species are threatened with extinction! Extinction of species beyond the threshold leads to the collapse of ecosystems. We may completely lose the rainforests in 100 years from now! The massive loss of wild species forced environmentalists to think that the Planet is undergoing its 6th great extinction phase!

How to stop this situation?

Along with the conventional conservation actions and professional academic programmes in Taxonomy, train more and more village youth to master the taxonomic and ex-situ conservation skills. These trained para taxonomists can be engaged in conservation, collection, cataloguing, and characterization of every species acrossthe landscapes and seascapes!
Trained Taxonomists can address to a great extent the problem of declinein the taxonomic skills, and reduction of trained taxonomists to work on the taxonomic systems of life in this planet.
Let the rules and hard science of taxonomy to be inside the walls of universities and colleges, and use such knowledge to design and deliver the curriculum and teaching skills in the science of systematic biology.

MSSRF’s Training for Saving the Endangered Species

MSSRF’s experience shows students in general in colleges and universities of many Indian states are obliged to study the taxonomic descriptions/ theories and memorize the names of the taxa in a mechanical way. As a result of such teaching approach students have driven away from taxonomy. Taxonomists- are those who discover, describe, and define our fellow species living on Earth! Unfortunately, as in the case of the wild species endangerment, taxonomists are also becoming an endangered species in this world! This is happening when it has estimated that at least another 10-12 million species are yet to be discovered and described. Properly planned training become necessary to address this challenge and to realize the importance of taxonomy, both at teachers’ and learners’ level.
Along with the academically qualified taxonomists, there is an urgent need for a trained cadre of para taxonomists in every district of the country. Though occasional training being conducted in India by various survey organizations, still only very few records to show professionally designed and organized training in this field. The cases where the para taxonomy and professional taxonomy are twined in for training also not many. This warrants the urgent need for a well-conceived taxonomy training programmes where the subject is taught in participatory and effective ways.

A 10-day Training Programme in Taxonomy

Training in taxonomy should focus on the techniques (both Linnaean and Folk techniques) needed to identify plants, to prepare taxonomic keys, to make good taxonomic description and to use camera Lucida for floristic illustrations, to collect different materials for herbarium preparation, to use floras for identification, to prepare herbarium and its maintenance, and so on.
To address this gap, a 10 -day training programme has proposed with a different style and approach. The potential para taxonomists and academic taxonomists will be twined in this programme. MSSRF’s experience in offering high-quality training for both village youth and academics will be combined with the folk taxonomic knowledge in plant classification.
The training will include (i) class-room lectures; (ii) hands-on experience; (iii) field visits and (iv) learning evaluation with help of high-quality training materials.

The training materials will include printed and multi-media materials. The topics covered will be in the practical aspects of the science of plant biosystematics along with the application of technologies like IT and BT. Apart from these topics, the training will be provided with basics of taxonomy and complete methodologies and techniques for plant collection, cataloguing, characterization and conservation.
The trained personnel including the students will be encouraged to provide their service in the survey and monitoring biodiversity or such kind of key genetic resource management actions in their respective locations.

Who will be benefited more?

Both non-professional and teachers will be the most benefited lots of this training as this is an opportunity to get the techniques of learning and teaching taxonomy innovatively and simplistically. The Training will also serve as a flagship initiative to increase the research student’s interest in taxonomy, and move up the awareness of the general public about the need and significance of taxonomy. This experience can contribute to the efforts related to biodiversity conservation, sustainable use, and benefit-sharing.
It is expected that this training will help the candidates/institutions to achieve the following benefits:

  • Build up sound theoretical knowledge on important taxonomic concepts including classification and nomenclature of plants;
  • Update the available taxonomic resource such as databases, floras, journals, research reports and websites and
  • Provide through experience in writing taxonomic descriptions, drawing floristic -illustrations and using of taxonomic keys.

Resource Team

Salim Pichan
N. Anil Kumar
Jithin Kandoth
Jayesh Joseph
V.V. Sivan
N. Mohanan

Outside Mssrf

Anil Sachariya
Jafer Palot
V. Balakrishnan
Ratheesh Narayanan
Sunil CN