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Nominal extinction and the taxonomist's responsibility: the example of Bromeliaceae in Brazil

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The destruction of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest is considered the world's most alarming conservation problem. The rudimentary knowledge of the thousands of species that inhabit such a fragmented biome highlights the importance of taxonomy as a basic tool for conservation. Bromeliaceae are one of the most striking elements of the Atlantic Forest and contribute significantly to biodiversity support capacity of the communities in which they live. This article utilizes the example of Bromeliaceae in Brazil to discuss the potential impact of misguided taxonomic and nomenclatural changes on the survival of species, and how it may affect biodiversity assessment. Nominal extinction is described as a phenomenon caused by errors in taxonomic decisions that involve mistaken designation of synonyms at the specific and infraspecific level. All taxonomic decisions that have the potential to create a negative impact on the environment should be widely discussed and anchored on the precautionary principal adopted by 1992 UN Conference on the Environment.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Herbarium Bradeanum, C. Postal 15.005, CEP 20031-970, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Publication date: 2003-05-01

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