Completely and utterly. Over the last decade the advent of molecular taxonomy has completely revolutionised coral identification. The old taxonomic framework, which was based largely on morphology and field observations, has undergone major revision leading to many name changes and reassigments. Molecular techniques have given scientists a way of testing the old morphological taxonomy and some 'natural groupings’ (family, genus, species) established in the 19th and 20th centuries have been shown to be either in need of review or complete reclassification. Essentially there has been a lot convergent evolution among the corals whereby things that look similar have actually arrived from divergent evolutionary origins.
Long story short there is still much research to be done to re-define old and new coral families alike, and to identify and describe the true nature of corals species. That said the hard work has been done at the genus level hence this new edition of the Coral Finder. This is good news for anyone interested in coral ID for survey and resource management work because genus level data for surveys is well worth doing using the new framework captured by Coral Finder. Moreover learning coral genera is the simplest and most comprehensive way to grapple with species level ID which, for ~50% of the fauna, remains stable and reliable.
BYOGUIDES have spent the last decade shooting pics in the Coral Triangle to expand the visual coverage of the Coral Finder. With over 1730 photos and twice as many pages as the previous edition it is the only coral ID resource on Earth that is up-to-date, practical and easy-to-use.
Coral taxonomy is a fast moving scientific field with new publications coming out monthly. To account for this moving feast the Coral Finder will be released annually from now on. This will allow BYOGUIDES to track and synthesise the new science and include improved photography on a regular basis leading to a better product and improved availability of scientific knowledge. Current and future editions of the Coral Finder will no longer be ‘offset print’ but rather 'print on demand'. The era of printing a huge number of books for lower unit cost and storing them in a warehouse is over. Print-on-demand publishing is the future for factual and technical publishing.
BYOGUIDES is considering an interactive PDF edition of the Coral Finder. If this appeals to you write to us and say so! Please don’t ask for a phone app - the Coral Finder works because Look-Alike pages present a small number of visual ‘best bets’ together on the same page allowing our visual supercomputer (eyes) to do the comparative pattern recognition work that interpreting text denies us. Likewise, reducing the Coral Finder to flicking through a stamp collection of single images on a phone screen gets in the road of ID / learning. However, we do believe that the Coral Finder can work well as an interactive PDF on a late model tablet (e..g. iPad Pro - big screen, powerful processor and pinch-to-zoom) or a desktop computer. Watch this space.
With all the upheaval and name changes caused by molecular taxonomy all of our existing training movies are in need of revision. It’s taken years of fieldwork to get the new Coral Finder to launch and we are working hard to deliver a new, high quality toolkit of training resources as soon as is practicable. For those familiar with the old Coral Finder Toolkit the terminology and techniques for coral ID remain the same - just the coral names are changing. So if you already know how to use and problem solve with the Coral Finder you’ll be good-to-go with the new edition. In the short term a training example will be added to the website while toolkit production proceeds.
Yes - they’re here! If you are interested please subscribe to our newsletter for updates on their availability. We can customise and scale workshops for coral ID, biodiversity and ocean literacy training. Please use our contact form to inquire.