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Plant collecting spread and densities: their potential impact on biogeographical studies in Thailand

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Abstract Aims

To produce representative aggregate maps of plant collection locations in Thailand and discuss their impact on biogeographical studies in Thailand and the surrounding region. Location

Thailand. Methods

A representative data set comprising 6593 plant specimen records for Thailand has been assembled. The data set contains ± all known collections for fifteen representative plant families and further records for another 104. All records are localized to Changwat (province), 6441 to at least quarter degree square. Results

Analysis shows that the spread of collecting activity in Thailand is markedly uneven; 20% of collections come from a single Changwat (Chiang Mai) and 53% of Changwat have fifty or fewer collections. The distribution of collections by Changwat and by quarter degree square is erratic with most squares and Changwat having few collections, both in proportionate and absolute terms. Some of the most densely forested Changwats and squares appear undercollected. Distribution maps for common, easily recognized tree species in the genus Syzygium show distributional gaps. Conclusions

Thailand is defined as an undercollected country. Even within the few well-collected quarter degree squares the spread of collecting is still poor; almost all collections being localized to one of three mountain ranges or their foothills. There are many gaps in collecting activity which make impossible a straightforward interpretation of biogeographical pattern. It is argued that targeted collecting activity is needed, that assembly of this type of data set is therefore essential and that our data set and its interpretation is a model for all countries in the region.
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Keywords: GIS; Southeast Asia; Thailand; biodiversity; biogeography; collection; collection density; conservation; flora of Thailand; plants

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Herbarium, School of Botany, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, 2: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK, 3: Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand, 4: National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin, Ireland, 5: Institute of Bioengineering and Agroecology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland, 6: Harvard University Herbaria, Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA, USA, 7: National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya, 8: Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, UK and 9: Royal Forest Herbarium, Royal Forest Department, Bangkok, Thailand

Publication date: 2003-02-01

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