Taxonomia zoológica no Brasil: estado da arte, expectativas e sugestões de ações futuras


  • Antonio Carlos Marques Universidade de São Paulo; Instituto de Biociências; Departamento de Zoologia
  • Carlos José Einicker Lamas Universidade de São Paulo; Museu de Zoologia



Systematics, Zoology, Taxonomy, Brazil, Biodiversity, Public Policies


Brazil is a megadiverse developing country and the knowledge on the current situation of Brazilian taxonomy is a necessary step to establish future policies to deal with biodiversity. Certainly, the most important issue for the understanding of biodiversity is the installing capacity of taxonomists. In fact, little is known concerning the number of taxonomists, scientific production, and the problems faced by taxonomists in each country. Once Brazilian biota is the richest of the world, it is undisputable that its knowledge is critical to understand world biodiversity patterns and to base conservation policies. We produced a technical report on Brazilian zoological taxonomy for the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology, which provided a more objective view upon the Brazilian biodiversity challenge. Brazil accounts for 6.67% of the total species described (ca. 100,000 out of 1.5 million), but we expect a significantly higher number of species to be described. Brazil has 542 taxonomists: 415 with permanent positions, publishing in all fields of zoology. Their average age is 45-50 years old, with the majority still expecting to be active for more than 15-20 years. PhD Theses in taxonomy decreased during the 1990s, reflecting the worlds lack of interest in the area. The majority of taxonomists are concentrated in South East (51.7%) and South (21.6%) Brazil, and extensive regions, including biomes like Pantanal, Cerrado (Savannah), Caatinga and the Amazonian Rainforest, count with continuously fewer experts. Taxa with the larger number of taxonomists are "fishes" (53), Crustacea (39), Diptera (28), and Mollusca (27) although no taxon is considered to have enough experts. Several groups are in a more critical situation. Poorly known ecosystems and biomes are deep waters, continental shelf, northern coastline, semi-arid Caatinga, Amazon rainforest, though no region is considered adequately known. 7,320 species were described (1978-1995, 430/year), a rhythm very slow for the present needs, especially because many wild habitats are disappearing. Brazilian researchers have important contributions to make for their taxonomical groups, intensively collaborating with foreign colleagues. However, basic taxonomic work is still to be done: only a few groups have catalogues or manuals, basic taxonomic revisions are restricted (especially lacking for marine groups), databasing is needed for many museum collections. Brazilian researchers published 1801 papers (from ISI-Web of Knowledge, January/2000-March/2005), but only three states (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais) were responsible for 70% of these. The largest and most representative zoological collections are concentrated in a few cities (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Belém, Manaus). There are 22 graduate programs of Zoology, 14 of them conferring PhDs, the majority of these in the same states in which the largest collections are found, and the best rated programs in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Paraná states. By the end of 2003, all programs together had 477 faculty professors, 480 MSc candidates and 486 PhD candidates. When compared to other countries, Brazil is in a rather good situation, although far from perfect. It is clear that world policies must be planned, but these will be more effective if countries know exactly how they can deal and can contribute to the global understanding on biodiversity. Our study also propose programs, strategies, and budgets based on the biodiversity data and needs.


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How to Cite

Marques, A. C., & Lamas, C. J. E. (2006). Taxonomia zoológica no Brasil: estado da arte, expectativas e sugestões de ações futuras . Papéis Avulsos De Zoologia, 46(13), 139-174.




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