We have a new paper in @JournalSystBio delving further into my PhD @rbge_Science & @OxfordPlants w @pablomurod. Whoop! 👉 http://doi.org/10.1080/14772000.2020.1751339
Funded by a @NERCscience PhD studentship & grants from @LeverhulmeTrust, @BBSRC, @SystAssn & @LinneanSociety.
First, let’s have a shout-out to superteam David Harris & @adavey_RBGE who revised the African Ginger genus Aframomum @RBGE_Herbarium. No tropical botany is possible without experts🧐🌿💪 #IBelieveInLigules
Second, let’s clear up that “finding” a species is different to “knowing” a species. “Finding” is that amazing Eureka moment when you realise that you have a new species. “Knowing” a species is a never-ending process of learning its distribution, phenology, ecology etc
So, we already know that:

1) It takes an average of 30 years to find a new plant species https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1011841108
2) >50% of specimens in herbaria do not have the correct name https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.10.002

So I wondered, what are the implications of this for our understanding of tropical plant species?🤔
Well, in Aframomum I found a lag of 65 yrs between the collection of the 1st & 15th specimens of a species, but it takes even longer -> 100 years to correctly name the first 15 specimens.
Is Aframomum weird? Well, @pablomurod looked at other groups of plants, they show a similar time lag from the collection of the 1st to the 15th specimen (58-74 yrs). Plus the average # of specimens cited in the publication of a new species in @KewBulletin over 40 yrs was 4.9.📚🤔
In other words, it takes from several decades to more than a century to gather a small amount of specimens to allow subsequent studies of tropical plant species.
What does this mean? If we want to understand or conserve nature during this #BiodiversityCrisis we need to keep training new experts to collect & identify plants. Tools like @GBIF & @BloodhoundTrack to clean up digitised specimens are vital too.
You can follow @Drypetes.
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