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Systematics Subcommittee

The Systematics Subcommittee (SSC) of the Federal Interagency Committee on Invasive Terrestrial Animals and Pathogens (ITAP) has a 20-year vision

"Strengthen national and global systematics to predict, prevent, and manage invasive species to ensure biosecurity; public health; economic, environmental and agricultural security; and sustainability."

Systematics is the science that identifies and groups organisms by understanding their origins, relationships and distributions. It is fundamental to understanding life on earth, our crops, wildlife and diseases, and provides the scientific foundation to recognize and manage invasive species.

Contact the Subcommittee Leadership

Strategic Plan

When the vision is achieved, we will have:

  • Systematics expertise in all groups of organisms.
  • An effective communication network linking Federal, academic, national and international taxonomic resources.
  • An integrated, web-based information system that links organismal biology, geography, and taxonomy with interactive keys and collections data.
  • Adequate human and physical resources for Federal systematics collections.
  • A reinvigorated capacity and commitment by universities to prepare professionals in systematics.
  • A culture that values and sustains its systematics resources.

To accomplish this vision, the SSC:

  • Has prepared a Situation Report "Protecting America's Economy, Environment, Health, and Security from Invasive Species Requires a Strong Federal Program in Systematics Biology" to create awareness of the crisis in systematics in Federal agencies.
  • Will comprehensively survey Federal systematics capacity and needs.
  • Will prepare a 10-year Plan, delineating actions and budget estimates for consideration by Agency and Congressional decision makers. This Plan will catalyze the strengthening of systematics resources for Federal agencies to predict, prevent and manage invasive species.
  • Will promote ways to leverage the Federal effort through external partnerships, to reinvigorate universities' training capacity and to augment international efforts.

Phased in over 10 years, an enhanced Federal Systematics Program will better counter national security threats posed by invasive species -- whether introduced intentionally or not, will fortify a new generation of systematic biologists, and establish contingencies for continuing operations in case of a shutdown of the Federal government.

SSC Work Plan FY 2007-2008

  1. Finalize, publish and disseminate paper "Strengthening the Federal Capacity in Systematics and Creating a Safety Net for Biosecurity".
  2. Finalize the Federal Systematics Survey, an agency data call related to federal systematics capacity and needs. Incorporate statistical analysis, survey expertise and web-based survey design for the data call.
  3. Identify agencies, conduct the Federal Systematics Survey, and analyze responses.
  4. Prepare a paper "Enhanced Federal Systematics Programs" that incorporates the survey's results and delineates a 10-year plan of actions and funding needs.

Approved by ITAP's Systematics Subcommittee on July 27, 2006

Amended by ITAP's SSC on August 11, 2006

Amended by ITAP's SSC on January 25, 2008

Federal Agency Survey

In response to the challenges posed by invasive species, the Systematics Subcommittee of ITAP developed a survey of Federal agencies who provide or use systematics information. This survey will be used to determine respective levels of involvement in systematics and assess agencies' current and future capacity for research, collections and information resources within an integrated national infrastructure.

The survey results provided a snapshot of current conditions and postulate future needs. The ITAP Systematics Subcommittee will use this information to prepare a policy paper to strengthen systematic biology programs in the Federal government.

The Data Call for Systematics from the Situation Report on U.S. Systematic Biology (2008) [PDF, 55 pages] describes the plans for the Federal Agency Survey on Systematics and Invasive Species, including a draft of the survey questionnaire.