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Producing a plant diversity portal for South Africa

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Taxonomy provides a universal method to classify biodiversity at different scales locally and globally. Currently, existing taxonomic treatments are scattered, limiting their accessibility and utility. The Convention on Biological Diversity has responded to this challenge by setting the goal of compiling a World Flora Online (Global Strategy for Plant Conservation Target 1, 2011–2020). This can be done by aggregating electronically available information provided by each country, region or specialist group. Developing a Flora or a high-level monographic product requires time and input from a large pool of taxonomic specialists. Completing a Flora may be difficult to accomplish for phytodiverse countries, such as South Africa, if the 2020 target is to be met. Fortunately, a large number of taxonomic contributions and many electronic tools exist that can enhance progress. Where these are available, efforts have to be made to access and digitise the literature. Here we describe a pragmatic approach to developing an online Flora, involving taking floristic information from multiple, previously published sources, digitising the legacy literature where needed and aggregating the required information into a single portal. South Africa is committed to producing an online Flora (the e-Flora of South Africa) and contributing the information to the World Flora Online initiative following the aggregator portal approach, a method described here that might be useful for other countries with high phytodiversity.
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Keywords: AGGREGATOR PORTAL; BIG DATA; BODATSA; BRAHMS; DATA MINING; E-FLORA OF SOUTH AFRICA; TAXONOMY; WORLD FLORA ONLINE

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Biosystematics Research and Biodiversity Collections Division, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Private Bag X101, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa, Department of Botany and Plant Biotechnology, University of Johannesburg, P.O. Box 524, Auckland Park, 2006, South Africa;, Email: [email protected] 2: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB, United Kingdom 3: School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Johannesburg, 2050, South Africa 4: Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, University of the Western Cape, Private Bag X17, Bellville, 7535, South Africa 5: Bews Herbarium, School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209, South Africa 6: Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, University College Oxford, OX1 4BH, United Kingdom 7: Bolus Herbarium, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch, 7701, South Africa 8: Biosystematics Research and Biodiversity Collections Division, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Private Bag X101, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa 9: Biosystematics Research and Biodiversity Collections Division, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Private Bag X101, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa 10: Biodiversity Informatics, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, United Kingdom 11: Department of Botany, Rhodes University, P.O. Box 94, Grahamstown, 6140, South Africa 12: Biosystematics Research and Biodiversity Collections Division, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Private Bag X101, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa, Department of Botany and Plant Biotechnology, University of Johannesburg, P.O. Box 524, Auckland Park, 2006, South Africa 13: South African Environmental Observation Network, Fynbos Node, Private Bag X7, Claremont, 7735, South Africa, and Statistics in Ecology, Environment and Conservation, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch, 7701, South Africa 14: Department of Botany and Plant Biotechnology, University of Johannesburg, P.O. Box 524, Auckland Park, 2006, South Africa

Publication date: 2017-05-01

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