concept ecosystem processes, habitat destruction, species extinction and
concept of biodiversity hotspots.The importance of biodiversity was one of the key subjects of the 1992 World Summit held inRio de Janeiro, Brazil, which resulted in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Thegoals of the CBD are “the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of itscomponents, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of geneticresources”. Nevertheless, human actions have caused huge losses in biodiversity, includingthe disruption of ecosystem processes, habitat destruction, species extinction and the erodingof genetic diversity within species.
In order to understand and conserve biodiversity we need to measure it effectively, withspecies richness being the most frequently used measure of biodiversity. At the momentaround 1.75 million species have been identified and estimates for the total number vary from3 to 100 million. Identifying, naming and examining the relationships between speciesdepends on highly skilled taxonomists and the general lack of taxonomic expertise andinfrastructure has been called the taxonomic impediment. The Global Taxonomy Initiative hasdeveloped a programme of work that attempts to reverse this impediment, whilst molecular