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Use of taxonomy for quarantine pest detection allows for effective bilateral trade

Relevant Sector: Agricultural exports.

Geographic Location: Orange River, Southern Namibia

Problem Statement: Namibia currently exports grapes to Europe. A company was expanding its production and wished to penetrate new markets, particularly the USA. Increased production would result in significant job creation, but is dependent on market access. Export of agricultural produce to the USA requires extensive information on likely pests that may threaten domestic production within the USA. Of particular significance are certain species of fruitflies, e.g. Mediterranean fruitfly. No information was available on which fruitflies occur in the production area, though available information indicated that quarantine pests were unlikely to occur within that area. The Mediterranean fruitfly was not known to occur in Namibia.

Methods: Taxonomists at the National Museum advised a comprehensive survey programme to record all fruitflies within the production area, later to be expanded to the surrounding area if results were negative. A preliminary survey were conducted by deploying three sets of McPhail traps, baited with a general fruitfly attractant Nu-Lure, and six sets baited with Trimed lure (specific for Mediterranean fruitfly) or Cue lure (specific for certain other species of quarantine concern), supplemented by specialist collecting in the surrounding area. The collected material was processed and forwarded to a consulting specialist for identification.

Outcomes and Impacts: Sixteen species of fruitfly were collected from the area, including Mediterranean fruitfly. No fruitflies were collected in traps baited with Trimed or Cue lure. The survey proved that quarantine pests do indeed occur within the area, albeit at low density and that negative results with species-specific lures do not imply that a target species is absent. The results enabled the company to plan for export procedures commensurate with likely US quarantine provisions. No information is available on what the likely costs to the company would have been if early identification of such quarantine pests were not available, nor is information available on the economic implications of Namibia not being able to be trusted to generate and provide sound information to its trading partners.

Lessons: Implementing appropriate taxonomic procedures at an early stage in economic planning allows for early recognition of potential problems. Taxonomic networking allows rapid and cost-effective sourcing of expertise. Taxonomic self-sufficiency allows for honest communication.

Reference: 1. Hancock, D. H., Kirk-Spriggs, A. H. & Marais, E. 2001. An annotated checklist and provisional atlas of Namibian Tephritidae (Diptera: Schizophora). Cimbebasia 17: 41-72. 2. Hancock, D. H., Kirk-Spriggs, A. H. & Marais, E. 2003. New records of Namibian Tephritidae (Diptera: Schizophora), with notes on the classification of subfamily Tephritinae. Cimbebasia 18.

Contact Information: Eugene Marais, Entomology Centre, National Museum of Namibia, P.O.Box 1203, Windhoek. Namibia. email: ph: +00 264 61 27 68 35. Fax: +00 (264 61) 22 86 36