Published research on the diversity and evolutionary history of Arthropoda sets a high standard for data collection and the integration of novel methods. New phylogenetic estimation algorithms, divergence time approaches, collaborative tools and publishing standards, to name a few, were brought to the broader scientific audience in the context of arthropod systematics. The treatment of morphology in these studies, however, has largely escaped innovation. Lodes rich in characters too often go unexplored, phenotype concepts are published with inadequate documentation and the way observations are textualised leaves them inaccessible to a majority of biologists. We discuss these issues, using data from recent arthropod systematics publications, and offer several that stand to restore the broad utility of morphological data. Specifically, we focus on: (1) the potential of internal soft-part characters and how to integrate their observation into arthropod systematics projects through dissection and serial sectioning; (2) the importance of capturing observations in images, especially using relatively new approaches, like laser scanning confocal microscopy and three-dimensional reconstruction; and (3) the untapped potential of established knowledge representation methods, which may help make the descriptive components of arthropod systematics research more accessible to other domains.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics