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Floras: a model for biodiversity studies or a thing of the past?

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Abstract:

Floras (and Faunas) have a rich history that involves examining questions on evolution and biogeography. However, in recent publications Floras have been viewed as an end unto themselves, separate from clade-based monographs and evolutionary studies. Floras are not a separate entity but rather a part of a continuum that involves databases, checklists, floras, biodiversity studies, and conservation biology as well as monographs. As the importance of Floras and related studies has become more apparent, there have been comments about the lag time between when specimens are collected and when they are identified, the amount of time it takes to describe new taxa, and how long it takes to finish floras and other projects. Some have referred to this as the "Taxonomic Impediment", and it is sometimes laid at the feet of taxonomists. Taxonomists can become more efficient by using various on-line resources and this will continue to speed up as more literature, etc. become available but the impediments to taxonomy are many, not the least of which is a lack of funding and the dwindling number of taxonomists. Changes in how systematists work and interact with other branches of science must take place in order to speed up research and re-establish the importance of Floras but only a substantial infusion of funds and personnel will really accelerate our progress.

Keywords: BIODIVERSITY; CONSERVATION; FAUNAS; FLORAS; SYSTEMATICS; TAXONOMY

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: US National Herbarium, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution MRC 166, Washington DC, 20013-7012 U.S.A.

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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