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
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.
The project team has now completed the primary transfer of information for the online Pakistan Plant Database from the outdated eFloras platform to TROPICOS, the Missouri Botanical Garden’s primary database system.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.
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