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Project Phoenix: a new taxonomy from the ashes of old

The molecular revolution and recent re-examinations of type material suggest that many of the recent revisions are flawed. Most currently accepted species boundaries are poorly defined and many synonymies are incorrect. Indeed, it is difficult to be confident of the identity of a single colony in the field even in well-studied locations such as the Great Barrier Reef. Coral taxonomy needs to be reinvented almost from scratch.

Key elements

1.  Collate all of the type material for the order Scleractinia, in particular the original descriptions and high resolution images of the types, and make this material readily accessible

2.  Collect topotypes of all nominal species in the order

3.  Collect representatives of putative novel species

4.  Delimit species boundaries using multiple lines of evidence, including morphology and a quantitative approach

5.  Collegiality, communication and a shared vision to see a robust taxonomy arise from the ashes of the old