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wo morphologically

distinct seahorses occur

around Western Europe,

commonly known as the

'short-snouted seahorse'

and the 'long-snouted

seahorse'. Their correct

scientific names, however,

are less straightforward,

and even after 250 years

debate continues, partly due

to the original description.

In the 10th edition of

Systema Naturae in 1758,

Carl Linnaeus described

seahorses by a single name

(Syngnathus hippocampus)

based on various accounts

from other authors,

including the renowned

ichthyologist Peter Artedi




p3 From Cabinet

to Internet

Digitising natural

history and medical


p3 Fellows' Information

Stay on top of the

digital wave

p4 Gibbons

'The aristocrat among

apes and monkeys'

p6 Science, Sex

and Poetry

Symbolic and

sometimes risqué

p8 News & Events

n Prof Niels

Kristensen 1943-2014

n Dragonflies:

Book for review

n Forthcoming Events

n Get in Touch

News from the Linnean Society of London - A living forum for biology

ISSN 1759-8036

Issue 8

December 2010

The International Year

of Biodiversity: What

Happens Next?


he International Year of Biodiversity - IYOB - conjures

up visions of great celebrations of the diversity of

life on Earth. This year has indeed been marked by

an incredibly rich set of activities, both here at the Linnean

Society, in London, in the UK and worldwide, designed to

concentrate minds and hearts on the challenge of conserving habitats,

species and genes in the years ahead. 2010 was

the year of targets - the target adopted by the Conference

of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in

2002 was to "achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction of the

current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and

national levels as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to

the benefit of all life on earth". It is widely accepted that the

target was not met in its entirety - but targets are aspirations,

there were good news stories as well.

Here at the Society we began the year with a talk about reintroduction

of beavers to Scotland, a real success story; later on

in conjunction with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee we

discussed the five main drivers of biodiversity loss identified by the

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and prioritised which needed

most urgent attention. Our annual joint biodiversity policy lecture

with the Systematics Association was a passionate case for linking

biodiversity loss and other planetary crises, or we would need to

"rent a bigger planet"! The concept of evidence-based conservation

- documenting what actually works on the ground - was received

with great enthusiasm at a packed summer evening meeting.

I began my own year with a meeting at UNESCO in Paris, one

step in setting the next sets of targets. The TEEB report on the

economics of biodiversity brought the real cost of losing the rest

of life on the planet home - we tend to take ecosystem services

underpinned by biodiversity so much for granted that it took

a major initiative to bring their true value in monetary terms to

the fore. Conferences were held throughout the year, all over the

world to develop new targets for the conservation of biodiversity

- these culminated in the COP in Nagoya, Japan, happening as I

write. In Nagoya, the meeting of Target 1 of the Global Strategy

for Plant Conservation (GSPC) was announced - botanists have

achieved a working list of all plant species, a true global effort.

This year also saw the "completion" of the Census of Marine Life,

another incredible effort by the scientific community to assess and

document the diversity of life on earth.

When the roadshow that is the COP in Nagoya dies down and

new targets for 2020 or 2030 are set, new policies developed and

new partnerships established, we must not forget biodiversity, not

think that because we had a year of biodiversity we can now move

on to something new. Biodiversity underpins ecosystem services

upon which the human species, named Homo sapiens or "thinking

man" by Linnaeus, depends. IYOB was not just a celebration of the

diversity of life on earth, but a platform upon which to develop

thoughts and actions to maintain a diverse and dynamic planet.

IYOB was only a beginning.

Dr Sandra Knapp FLS

© Dennis Taylor

Issue 25 • March 2015





Hippocampus hippocampus

ABOVE The seahorse

specimens in the

Linnaean collections READ ON *


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