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Discovering the Plant World

Ghillean T. Prance
Taxon
Vol. 50, No. 2, Golden Jubilee Part 4 (May, 2001), pp. 345-359
DOI: 10.2307/1223885
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1223885
Page Count: 15
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Discovering the Plant World
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Abstract

The last fifty years have been a time of accelerated plant collection, especially in the tropics. However, this is a race against time since the destruction of natural habitats has also increased dramatically. The rate at which collecting is still adding new species of flowering plants indicates that the inventory is not nearly complete, and that the past estimates of total species numbers are low and should be increased to 320,000. The production of florulas and quantitative inventories of small areas of the tropics, accompanied by intensive fieldwork, has greatly helped to improve the level of inventory. Future collecting should be carefully targeted towards areas that are particularly threatened, such as those defined as hotspots, and also collection of rare species rather than repeated over-collection of widely distributed common taxa. Future collecting should also gather material for ancillary studies such as molecular work and evolutionary development.

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