Data liberated through the Plazi workflow can enhance the taxonomic backbone and e-Flora of South Africa

ID: 613 / 232

Category: Abstract

Track: Pending

Proposed Symposium Title: Data liberated through the Plazi workflow can enhance the taxonomic backbone and e-Flora of South Africa


Ronell R. Klopper1,2, M. Marianne le Roux1,3 and Ian Engelbrecht4

Affiliations: 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, South Africa 2. University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa 3. University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa 4. Natural Science Collections Facility, Pretoria, South Africa


South Africa has had the benefit of an electronic database housing taxonomic and floristic data since the early 1970s. Initially the database only contained the taxonomic backbone with nomenclatural and specimen level data. Leading up to 2003, elementary floristic data (life cycle, growth form, plant height, altitude, distribution) were added. Since 2013, as a result of Target 1 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation—to produce an online World Flora by 2020—the floristic data content of the Botanical Database of Southern Africa (BODATSA) was greatly expanded to contribute to the World Flora Online (WFO) through the e-Flora of South Africa project. Since South Africa harbours 5.3% of the global flora with an exceptional species-level endemism (±60%), the country could provide a fair proportion of unique content to the WFO. Information contained in publications were crucial for compiling the e-Flora. However, liberating published treatments were a stumbling block in the initial stages of the project, until a custom plug-in was created to extract information from publications and format it for import into BODATSA, from where it was published to the WFO. The Plazi workflow offers a similar, although more sophisticated, method for extracting taxonomic and floristic data from publications. It has the added benefit that, once a publication has been processed, treatments and related information are available on TreatmentBank for everybody to access and use. Taxonomic and floristic data for South African plants on TreatmentBank can be compiled and extracted via customisable filters. Such freely accessible liberated data can greatly benefit the process of updating and enhancing the taxonomic backbone and e-Flora of South Africa. We will present our experiences, tools, and workflows used to integrate data from Plazi databases into our taxonomic backbone and floristic database, as well provide recommendations to taxonomists to facilitate easier data liberation.

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: checklist, digitisation, e-Flora, floristic data, taxonomic backbone