EDIT (the European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy): A network of 28 major taxonomic institutions, devoted to making more powerful, more reliable and more applicable taxonomy. For a fuller description of EDIT, click here. EDIT is geared to help Europe overcome the taxonomic impediment and improve measurably the quantity and quality of its taxonomic work. To do this, we operate on a number of fields to help taxonomists in their daily life.
EDIT wishes to help the taxonomic community become more powerful, more active and more relevant to society. Among our core projects, we operate a Gender Action Plan, which aims to facilitate the life of young parents and of female scientists.
EDIT coordinates training for the upcoming generations of taxonomists. We record existing taxonomy training courses, and we also offer an Expert-in-Training programme for short, on-the-job training in specific techniques and technologies, from morphology to molecular phylogeny to ethnobotany. We also coordinate the outreach activities of our member institutions to demonstrate taxonomy’s worth to the public, notably in the 2010 Biodiversity Year.
We believe that the use of new information technologies will transform the daily life of taxonomists. EDIT’s cybertaxonomy platform will be freely downloadable to work on anyone’s computer. It will cover nomenclature management, extraction of data from literature, geographical information, computer-aided description and identification, publication support, specimen data access, and other fields.
To collaborate more easily across the world, we provide websites for networks of taxonomists. Four pilot exemplar groups (Compositae, Palms, Diptera and Lepidoptera) benefit from personalised support in return for feedback, but we also provide free scratchpad websites. These websites are geared to manage taxonomic information, including images, names, maps, gene sequences and specimen data. Through these tools and others, we simplify and empower the process of taxonomic revision.
EDIT works on integrating the activity of its member institutions, both at the scientific and at the management levels. We are currently running programmes on expertise mapping, collection management, research plan integration and virtual infrastructure, and future scoping for taxonomy. EDIT also helps to coordinate working groups to respond to other calls to tender. For example, it gave birth to the Pan-European Species Directory Infrastructure and to the European Consortium for the Barcoding of Life.
EDIT is coordinating several All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory and Monitoring (ATBI+M) programmes. In these, individuals or teams can be coordinated and funded to assess the biodiversity in their expertise group in the region in question. In turn, they can then be assembled into task forces to fulfil society’s needs for taxonomic expertise. Current ATBI+Ms are ongoing or planned in France, Italy, Slovakia and Tanzania.