Bringing plants to the table: Assessing bias to build a subsample of plants that represents global diversity patterns

ID: 613 / 301

Category: Abstract

Track: Pending

Proposed Symposium Title: Bringing plants to the table: Assessing bias to build a subsample of plants that represents global diversity patterns


Baldaszti, L.1,2, Pironon, S.3,4, Brummitt, N.A.5, Lehmann, C.1,2 , Moonlight, P. M.2,6, Särkinen, T.2

Affiliations: 1 University of Edinburgh, UK 2 Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, UK 3 Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK 4 UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre, UK 5 Natural History Museum, UK 6 Trinity College Dublin, Ireland


More than 40% of the world’s plant species are rare and threatened by extinction. While destruction of the natural world has accelerated dramatically over the past decades, our knowledge of global plant biodiversity patterns has not accelerated at similar rates, with only 20% of the species having their extinction risk formally assessed by now.

As our knowledge of plant biodiversity is incomplete, all global studies of plant diversity patterns are based upon subset of species. The included species and the amount of data available for those species are the result of >300 years of biased plant collecting. So,  while studying diversity patterns based upon all available distribution data has its merits, it can also lead to a severely distorted view of global biodiversity patterns. It is thus necessary to identify and reduce these biases or find alternatives to better estimate extinction risk and biodiversity patterns from incomplete data. Determining the number of species needed to accurately represent different aspects of plant biodiversity patterns at a global scale thus has important implications for the validity of previous studies but can also be incorporated in future studies.

In my PhD I aim to identify the number of species needed to represent different aspects of global vascular plant biodiversity patterns including species, phylogenetic, floristic, and functional diversity using the World Checklist of Vascular Plants (WCVP) as a baseline. I use this information to determine how well datasets such as the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Species Red List Index, and openly available plant occurrence data incorporate different aspects of plant biodiversity. The outputs will be of interest for biodiversity conservationists and macroecologists.

Symposia selection: 32, 66, 135

Key words: biodiversity patterns - global - collection bias - conservation - data - spatial