SOSA – Senckenberg Ocean Species Alliance


Taxonomic species descriptions and the associated scientific names and are the fundamental basis for a wide range of research, conservation efforts and communication. However, the shelf life of newly discovered species – the time until it is properly studied, described, named and published – regularly takes very long, sometimes 10 or even 20 years. Without accelerating this process, we face the risk that species may become extinct before we even know them.

The Discovery Unit comprises a team focused on streamlining and accelerating the taxonomic description and publication processes. It is a hub for a global alliance of experts across the diverse taxonomic groups together representing the marine invertebrates. Through the Discovery Unit, SOSA offers its partners and clients the efficient compilation and processing of high-quality morphological imagery alongside a description-focused publication model (Ocean Species Notes). Equipped with a wide range of macro- and microscopic technologies, SOSA masters the intricacies of species description across the extremely diverse marine invertebrates This model for a taxonomy service is currently being developed and tested.

The Taxonomy Challenge

The average speed with which new species are described today no longer meets the accelerating need and urgency for species description and naming. If you compare naming a species to building a house, many individual taxonomists are taking responsibility for everything from the initial blueprints to the final construction. This widely followed all-in-one “Renaissance-person” approach comes at a cost: time, which we no longer have. 

Instead, an approach of shared responsibilities is needed in taxonomy that concentrates taxonomists’ intellectual and creative skills and experience where they matter most: in recognizing an organism as new to science and interpreting and publishing the evidence accompanied by new species names. 

SOSA’s Scientific Service Model

SOSA’s taxonomy service restructures the description process and employs cutting-edge tools to deliver high-quality results. This service includes (1) specimen data management, (2) morphological and molecular preparation, (3) state-of-the art scientific imaging, illustration and data presentation, (4) quality assurance and data archiving, and (5) rapid, peer-reviewed, taxonomy-focused publishing. This new streamlined taxonomy workflow is designed to alleviate the pressure felt by many taxonomists to master and apply all possible techniques in their taxonomic practice and instead contract out the more tedious and technical aspects of species descriptions, while still assuring high-quality end results.

Learn more in this video.

What’s in a name?

Taxonomy is the science of classifying and describing organisms and it is a crucial component in the protection of biological diversity. Named species are easier to study, protect and appreciate because scientific names allow us to unambiguously communicate across cultural and language barriers around the globe. But estimated over 90% of marine species remain unnamed and undescribed. 


A Global Alliance

The SOSA taxonomy model brings together a global alliance of scientists. This ambition is incredibly important as most of the undescribed biodiversity is concentrated in megadiverse countries, which are mostly developing nations. Yet, because taxonomic practice is closely interwoven with large museums and collections, it can be difficult for countries in the Global South to gain traction in taxonomic research. 

The SOSA Discovery Unit acts as a hub to connect taxonomists within and with the Global South for capacity building and with the ultimate goal to eventually be replicated in other regions across all other taxonomic groups with large numbers of undescribed species.


SOSA’s Discovery Unit:

Are you interested in collaborating to describe a new species, providing your unique taxonomic expertise, or being part of our growing SOSA alliance? Contact one of our Discovery Unit team members below!

Carlos Alberto Martínez Muñoz
Research Assistant
Henry Knauber
Doctoral scholarship of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation


Meine Forschung beschäftigt sich mit benthischen Asselkrebsen (Crustacea: Isopoda) aus der Tiefsee des Nordwestpazifiks. Mich interessieren vor allem die Diversität dieser Isopoden, ihre evolutionären Ursprünge und heutigen Verbreitungsmuster. Ein besonderer Fokus liegt für mich darauf herauszufinden welchen Einfluss die Beschaffenheit der Tiefsee (Tiefe, geografische Distanz, Tiefseestrukturen wie Gebirgsrücken und Gräben) auf Biogeographie und Artbildung der Isopoden haben. Hierzu bediene ich mich der integrativen Taxonomie, bei der eine Vielzahl morphologischer, molekulargenetischer und biogeografischer Methoden zum Einsatz kommen. Dies alles untersuche ich im Rahmen des Promotionsprojekts „EDDGI“.


Neben meiner akademischen Forschung widme ich mich zudem der Wissenschaftskommunikation und gewähre über meinen Blog und die dazugehörige Instagram-Seite Einblicke in den Doktoranden-Alltag, meine eigene Arbeit sowie in die Tiefseeforschung.


Instagram: @abyss.arium

seit Februar 2022 –Promotions-Stipendiat der Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes verortet in der Crustaceen-Sektion (Marine Zoologie), Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut / Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main

Doktorarbeit – „Effects of Depth, Distance and the Geomorphology on deep-sea isopod differentiation (EDDGI)”

2018–2020 – Masterstudium „Ökologie & Evolution“ an der Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main

Masterarbeit – „Impact of bathymetric barriers on speciation within Haploniscidae (Crustacea: Isopoda) in the deep sea of the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench region” im Senckenberg-Forschungsinstitut, Frankfurt am Main

2015–2018 – Bachelorstudium „Biowissenschaften“ an der Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main

Bachelorarbeit – „ Morphological analysis of a haploniscid species from the Northwest Pacific Ocean” im Senckenberg-Forschungsinstitut, Frankfurt am Main

2014 – Abitur am Rheingauschule Gymnasium, Geisenheim (Rheingau)

Anchita Casaubon
Katarzyna Vončina
PhD Student
Anissa Halbich
Student Helper