Peter C. Hoch, Missouri Botanical Garden
Syed I. Ali, University of Karachi
Pakistani Funding (HEC): $45,306
US Funding (Department of State): $46,021
Project Dates: November 15, 2010 - November 14, 2013 (Extended through March 31, 2014)
This project will result in a complete modern flora of more than 6,000 species from a large, relatively poorly known region of South Asia, the first complete floristic database for the region, and will foster enhanced cooperation among plant scientists from Pakistan, the United States, and other nations. Funding from this grant will make it possible to complete the final series of volumes in this mammoth project, which began in 1968 and prior to the start of this grant had produced 217 volumes of the Flora. The approximately 1,100 species to be documented in this last component of the project will be added to the Pakistan Plant Database, accessible at the Web site efloras.org. The printed Flora, especially the earlier volumes, is not always easily accessible outside of major scientific centers, but the completion of the Internet-accessible database makes the Flora and all of the information therein readily accessible. This will be a particular benefit to scientists, students, and administrators throughout Pakistan, who can use the information to study, protect, and preserve their natural heritage.
Following Dr. Hoch’s trip to England in May 2013 to study herbarium specimens at the Royal Botanic Gardens (K) and Natural History Museum (BM), the two largest repositories of historical specimens from the flora region, George Yatskievych (MO) commenced study of specimens (1,800) borrowed from K and BM, including entering all label data to a table in MS Excel. The visit to England also allowed GY to meet with co-author Christopher Fraser-Jenkins, who was visiting England at the time. This led to the sharing of copious notes and other information. It also allowed the completion of a working checklist of accepted taxa, along with partial synonymy and indication of which taxa occur in Pakistan and which are known from Jammu/Kashmir.
At MO, volunteer Emily Horton has been transcribing specimen label data Fraser-Jenkins obtained during visits to herbaria in India and Pakistan during the 1970s and 1980s (these herbaria generally are unavailable to non-national scientists at the present time). Thus far, Emily has converted an additional ca. 1,800 specimen labels into a table in MS Excel, but is only about 50% finished. The original notes are handwritten and difficult to read. Another volunteer Hira Raza (from Pakistan) has been working to geo-reference the label data currently available in electronic form. She has completed approximately 2,000 labels from both the British herbaria and those in India/Pakistan. The georeferencing will permit citation of the specimens in the Flora treatment. It should be noted that a copy of the Excel files will be sent back to Pakistan to be shared with botanists in the country via Professor S. I. Ali (co-PI at University of Karachi) and Dr. Raza Bhatti, Director of the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation, Shah Abdul Latif University, in Khairpur, Pakistan, who is spending most of 2013 at MO on a Fulbright Fellowship. Dr. Bhatti is also helping to organize data support for the project through his personal contacts with other botanists in Pakistan.
By the end of 2013, GY will have completed sample treatments of two small families, so as to create a format template for the overall work. This will be reviewed by Fraser-Jenkins. The checklist of the ferns and lycophytes of Pakistan + Jammu/Kashmir currently stands at 196 taxa. It is expected that the actual draft treatment of the pteridophyte flora will require until the end of 2014 before it will be ready to submit for editing.
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2012 Show summary || Hide summary
The project team has now completed the primary transfer of information for the online Pakistan Plant Database from the outdated eFloras platform to TROPICOS, the Missouri Botanical Garden’s primary database system. The system now includes information from all 219 published volumes of the Flora of Pakistan and features improved connections to other components of the extensive TROPICOS database. The URL for the new Pakistan Plant Database is http://www.tropicos.org/Project/Pakistan. Mr. Abrar Ali, who works with Pakistani principal investigator Dr. Syed I. Ali at the University of Karachi, has been designated as a TROPICOS administrator. This will expedite both the entry of information from new Flora volumes and correction of errors, and it provides the Pakistani members of the project team with a substantial measure of control over and full access to their information.
Dr. S.I. Ali reports that the third volume on the Asteraceae (the plant family that includes asters, daisies, and sunflowers) was published September 2011, with the authors being Drs. M. Qaiser and Rubina Abid. A fourth volume on that family is currently being edited and illustrated and should be published by October 2012. A manuscript on the Myrtaceae (a family of fragrant woody plants like myrtle, clove, and eucalyptus) was published in March 2012. One volume on the Rosaceae (a large family including flowering shrubs like rose and hawthorn, as well as fruit trees like cherry, peach, and almond) has been published, and a second volume on this family is currently being prepared in cooperation with colleagues at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. During the first half of 2012, these researchers are enhancing their database by adding georeferencing to show the location of existing cited specimens for species in Pakistan. Discussions are also underway with a new Pakistan Plant Network (a consortium of botanical gardens in Pakistan coordinated by Dr. Mary Barkworth of Utah State University) to collaborate on adding images, additional georeferenced specimen data, and other relevant information to the Pakistan Plant Database. Dr. George Yatskievych of the Missouri Botanical Garden and Dr. Maarten Christenhusz at Helsinki are collaborating on a volume about the pteridophytes (ferns and their allies) for the Flora, which will include herbarium work at European institutions. Meanwhile, in Karachi work on Scrophulariaceae (figworts) will continue, with publication projected during 2012. Efforts are ongoing to identify an appropriate Pakistani specialist to be involved in collaborations on the planned fern treatment with Drs. Yatskievych and Christenhusz. This search has been complicated by the severe budget cuts on the Pakistani side of the project, which removed funding for a PhD student and an M.Phil student. Supplemental funds are being sought from other sources, but the work is continuing nevertheless, and much progress has already been made.
2013 Show summary || Hide summary
On the US side, Dr. George Yatskievych (botanist) of the Missouri Botanical Garden is now collaborating with Dr. C.R. Fraser-Jenkins (London) on pteridophytes (ferns and their allies),which will include herbarium work at European institutions. Dr. Yatskievych has begun to organize the material into descriptions and to digitize specimen localities and add them to the TRPICOS plant database system at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. The web-site for the Pakistan Plant Database continues to be developed (http://www.tropicos.org/Project/Pakistan). It includes introductory information about Pakistan, the history of the Flora of Pakistan project, and the full searchable database of the plants of Pakistan, embedded within the larger TROPICOS database of the Missouri Botanical Garden.
Meanwhile, in Karachi work progresses on completing the published volumes of the Flora of Pakistan. They published Vol. 218: Asteraceae III – Senecioneae & Mutisieae, M. Qaiser & Rubina Abid (84 pp, 15 genera, 48 species; 28 Sep 2011) and Vol. 219: Myrtaceae, Abdul Ghafoor (45 pp., 7 genera, 26 species; 5 Mar 2012) . Three additional volumes of the Flora of Pakistan are expected to be published including one almost ready for printing and additional volumes are in early stages of preparation. Efforts to identify an appropriate Pakistani botanist to be involved in collaborations on the planned fern treatment with Dr. Yatskievych has not been successful due to severe budget cuts on the Pakistani side of the project which removed funding for a botanist as well as additional staff including a PhD and M.Phil students. In addition, delay in release of funding until July 2011, more than six months after the start of the US funding resulted in delays in the completion of final volumes of the Flora. There were no exchange visits to or from Pakistan during this period.
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