Taxonomy, the field of identifying species, has been sniffily dismissed as mere stamp collecting, but this attitude belies an ignorance of what it means to correctly identify species. These are the fundamental units of biology, much as elements are for chemistry. Imagine the complexity of trying to work out chemical reactions and likely patterns and processes without recognising that some substances were composed of a single element, and others were mixtures or compounds. If we cannot identify and separate out species, the rest of biology is rather left floundering.

This might still seem like something only of interest and relevance to academics, but the implications are much more broad. A farmer needs to know which weed it is that has invaded his plot and what pesticide to use, or which flies might blight his livestock. If you're ever bitten by a snake or spider you should hope the species can be correctly identified or the anti-venom administered may be incorrect. That plant may yield a new anti-bacterial drug, but are we sampling one species or two that look alike? A new mosquito is spreading, but is it a malaria carrying species or not?