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DNA barcode finds four new bird species

unknown organisms yet to be collected and analyzed by taxonomists. Although most unknown species live in tropical climates, even in a place as well trodden as New York City's Central Park a previously unknown species of centipede was discovered two years ago.

"DNA barcodes will be the key for the naturalist's field guide for the new millennium," says Stoeckle.

A Public Library of Species

With the results reported today, scientists took an important step toward broadly applying the DNA barcode technique. "The first step toward a library is to show scientifically that a uniform approach can work. Then museums, ecologists and others can adopt it as a standard," says Stoeckle.

In fact, earlier this year an International Consortium for the Barcode of Life was formed and includes among its members natural history museums, herbaria, biological repositories and biodiversity inventory sites, as well as academic and commercial experts in genomics, electronics, taxonomy and computer science. The group's goal is to accelerate the compilation of DNA barcodes of known and newly discovered plant and animal species, and to establish a public online database of DNA barcode sequences.

The consortium arose from two conferences on DNA and taxonomy organized in 2003 with leadership from Rockefeller Professor Emeritus Norton Zinder, Ph.D., the first chair of the Human Genome Project, and Jesse Ausubel, director of the Rockefeller Program for the Human Environment and also a program director for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which is supporting the consortium.

An important aspect of the database is that each barcode is linked to an actual museum specimen. "Linking sequences to physical specimens makes the results believable, repeatable and open to revision," says Stoeckle.

"Once you build a library, then many people can take advantage of it," add
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27-Sep-2004


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