Parataxonomy is the use of less qualified assistance to, or replacement of, taxonomists in the practice and science of classification.
Parataxonomy may be used to improve taxonomic efficiency by enabling more expert taxonomists to restrict their activity to the tasks that require their specialist knowledge and skills, typically by undertaking basic sorting of collected specimens.
Generally parataxonomists work in the field, sorting collected samples into recognizable taxonomic units (RTUs) based on easily recognised features. The process can be used alone for rapid assessment of biodiversity. This process is obviously prone to error depending on the sample, the sorter and the species, therefore quantitative studies based on parataxonomic processes may be unreliable and is therefore controversial.
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