From time immemorial, human beings have maintained a complex system of oral communication, with the naming of things a central component. Taxonomy builds on this age-old human impulse. It facilitates the naming, description and classification of organisms – plants, animals and microorganisms – in an ordered system intended to indicate natural relationships. 

Taxonomic knowledge is critical as it underpins the understanding of complex biological interactions, for instance where different species fit within ecosystems, what they feed on, what feeds on them, what is their impact on others, and what might happen should they disappear. Accurate taxonomic knowledge is at the basis of conservation strategies, and in current times is essential for evaluating the effects of climate change on ecosystems. 

At icipe, taxonomy is interlinked with the Centre’s mandate of conserving biodiversity. Since the Centre’s founding, icipe has discovered many interesting new species and provided insights into the geographical distribution of various insect groups, primarily Hymenoptera and Diptera. icipe’s taxonomists have provided researchers working on African Hymenoptera with desperately needed material for understanding their diversity, abundance and phenology. 

For further information, contact:

Robert Copeland (, Acting Head, Biosystematics Unit