Integrating taxonomic and floristic data into a global perspective: The case of the South African flora
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Proposed Symposium Title: Integrating taxonomic and floristic data into a global perspective: The case of the South African flora
M. Marianne le Roux1,2, Ronell R. Klopper1,3, Mduduzi N. Nkwanyana1 and Janine E. Victor1
Affiliations: 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, South Africa. 2. University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa. 3. University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.
Taxonomy serves as the foundational framework essential for evaluating, monitoring, and safeguarding biodiversity. At the onset of the 21st century, acquiring taxonomic information for these endeavours presented challenges; however, recent advances in technology have considerably eased this process. The establishment of the World Flora Online (WFO) Consortium has garnered global support in the pursuit of a global Flora.
In 2013, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) joined the WFO Consortium and has since achieved notable success in creating the e-Flora of South Africa. Drawing from the 2023 release of the South African National Plant Checklist, the country has 22,162 indigenous taxa (20,173 indigenous species) of which 14,131 taxa (12,171 species) are endemic. As documented on the WFO website (June 2023), the global species count stands at 383,054, signifying that South Africa contributes approximately 5.3% to the global floral knowledge. Remarkably, 3.2% of this contribution is unique due to the high level of endemism in the country.
Taxonomic information is harnessed from existing published information to populate the e-Flora of South Africa database. Starting from 2016, data from the South African National Plant Checklist and the e-Flora of South Africa have been integrated into the WFO, fulfilling the country’s international obligations concerning the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and WFO. By 2020, comprehensive coverage of all indigenous species was achieved within the e-Flora of South Africa culminating in its 2023 publication on SANBI’s new Biodiversity Advisor platform.
Looking ahead, the e-Flora of South Africa will be maintained in alignment with updates to the South African National Plant Checklist, accompanied by expansion to encompass descriptions of infraspecific taxa, genera, families, and naturalised taxa. An inclusive overview of the e-Flora of South Africa project will be presented to provide a comprehensive understanding of its scope and significance.