Biodiversity research requires more boots on the ground

Our incomplete taxonomic knowledge impedes our attempts to protect biodiversity. A renaissance in the classification of species and their interactions is needed to guide conservation prioritization.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Two of the 15,214 species of ant named globally by mid-2017.

both photographs, Christian Rabeling/Harvard University.


  1. 1.

    Mora, C., Tittensor, D. P., Adl, S., Simpson, A. G. B. & Worm, B. PLOS Biol. 9, e1001127 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Wilson, E. O. Pheidole in the New World: A Dominant, Hyperdiverse Ant Genus (Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, 2003).

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Mahé, F. et al. Nat. Ecol. Evol. 1, 0091 (2017).

  4. 4.

    Tranter, M. Nature 512, 256–257 (2014).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Dinerstein, E. et al. BioScience 67, 534–545 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Lamkin, M. & Miller, A. J. BioScience 66, 785–789 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Burkhead, N. M. BioScience 62, 793–808 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Wilson, E. O. Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life (Liveright, New York, 2016).

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Pennisi, E. Science 355, 894–895 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Edward O. Wilson.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing financial interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wilson, E.O. Biodiversity research requires more boots on the ground. Nat Ecol Evol 1, 1590–1591 (2017).

Download citation

Further reading


Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing