Exploring the floristic diversity of tropical Africa

Marc S.M. Sosef*, Gilles Dauby, Anne Blach-Overgaard, Xander van der Burgt, Luís Catarino, Theo Damen, Vincent Deblauwe, Steven Dessein, John Dransfield, Vincent Droissart, Maria Cristina Duarte, Henry Engledow, Geoffrey Fadeur, Rui Figueira, Roy E. Gereau, Olivier J. Hardy, David J. Harris, Janneke de Heij, Steven Janssens, Yannick Klomberg & 12 others Alexandra C. Ley, Barbara A. Mackinder, Pierre Meerts, Jeike L. van de Poel, Bonaventure Sonké, Tariq Stévart, Piet Stoffelen, Jens Christian Svenning, Pierre Sepulchre, Rainer Zaiss, Jan J. Wieringa, Thomas L.P. Couvreur

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Understanding the patterns of biodiversity distribution and what influences them is a fundamental pre-requisite for effective conservation and sustainable utilisation of biodiversity. Such knowledge is increasingly urgent as biodiversity responds to the ongoing effects of global climate change. Nowhere is this more acute than in species-rich tropical Africa, where so little is known about plant diversity and its distribution. In this paper, we use RAINBIO - one of the largest mega-databases of tropical African vascular plant species distributions ever compiled - to address questions about plant and growth form diversity across tropical Africa. Results: The filtered RAINBIO dataset contains 609,776 georeferenced records representing 22,577 species. Growth form data are recorded for 97% of all species. Records are well distributed, but heterogeneous across the continent. Overall, tropical Africa remains poorly sampled. When using sampling units (SU) of 0.5°, just 21 reach appropriate collection density and sampling completeness, and the average number of records per species per SU is only 1.84. Species richness (observed and estimated) and endemism figures per country are provided. Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Liberia appear as the botanically best-explored countries, but none are optimally explored. Forests in the region contain 15,387 vascular plant species, of which 3013 are trees, representing 5-7% of the estimated world's tropical tree flora. The central African forests have the highest endemism rate across Africa, with approximately 30% of species being endemic. Conclusions: The botanical exploration of tropical Africa is far from complete, underlining the need for intensified inventories and digitization. We propose priority target areas for future sampling efforts, mainly focused on Tanzania, Atlantic Central Africa and West Africa. The observed number of tree species for African forests is smaller than those estimated from global tree data, suggesting that a significant number of species are yet to be discovered. Our data provide a solid basis for a more sustainable management and improved conservation of tropical Africa's unique flora, and is important for achieving Objective 1 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation 2011-2020. In turn, RAINBIO provides a solid basis for a more sustainable management and improved conservation of tropical Africa's unique flora.
Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalBMC Biology
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Fingerprint

floristics
Biodiversity
Conservation
Sampling
flora
sampling
growth form
endemism
biodiversity
vascular plant
Analog to digital conversion
vascular plants
Blood Vessels
Climate change
indigenous species
Coastal zones
Liberia
Gabon
Plant Dispersal
Central Africa

Keywords

  • Botanical exploration
  • Digitization
  • Floristic patterns
  • Herbarium specimens
  • Plant growth form
  • Species richness
  • Tropical forests

Cite this

Sosef, M. S. M., Dauby, G., Blach-Overgaard, A., van der Burgt, X., Catarino, L., Damen, T., ... Couvreur, T. L. P. (2017). Exploring the floristic diversity of tropical Africa. BMC Biology, 15(1), [15]. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-017-0356-8
Sosef, Marc S.M. ; Dauby, Gilles ; Blach-Overgaard, Anne ; van der Burgt, Xander ; Catarino, Luís ; Damen, Theo ; Deblauwe, Vincent ; Dessein, Steven ; Dransfield, John ; Droissart, Vincent ; Duarte, Maria Cristina ; Engledow, Henry ; Fadeur, Geoffrey ; Figueira, Rui ; Gereau, Roy E. ; Hardy, Olivier J. ; Harris, David J. ; de Heij, Janneke ; Janssens, Steven ; Klomberg, Yannick ; Ley, Alexandra C. ; Mackinder, Barbara A. ; Meerts, Pierre ; van de Poel, Jeike L. ; Sonké, Bonaventure ; Stévart, Tariq ; Stoffelen, Piet ; Svenning, Jens Christian ; Sepulchre, Pierre ; Zaiss, Rainer ; Wieringa, Jan J. ; Couvreur, Thomas L.P. / Exploring the floristic diversity of tropical Africa. In: BMC Biology. 2017 ; Vol. 15, No. 1.
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abstract = "Background: Understanding the patterns of biodiversity distribution and what influences them is a fundamental pre-requisite for effective conservation and sustainable utilisation of biodiversity. Such knowledge is increasingly urgent as biodiversity responds to the ongoing effects of global climate change. Nowhere is this more acute than in species-rich tropical Africa, where so little is known about plant diversity and its distribution. In this paper, we use RAINBIO - one of the largest mega-databases of tropical African vascular plant species distributions ever compiled - to address questions about plant and growth form diversity across tropical Africa. Results: The filtered RAINBIO dataset contains 609,776 georeferenced records representing 22,577 species. Growth form data are recorded for 97{\%} of all species. Records are well distributed, but heterogeneous across the continent. Overall, tropical Africa remains poorly sampled. When using sampling units (SU) of 0.5°, just 21 reach appropriate collection density and sampling completeness, and the average number of records per species per SU is only 1.84. Species richness (observed and estimated) and endemism figures per country are provided. Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Liberia appear as the botanically best-explored countries, but none are optimally explored. Forests in the region contain 15,387 vascular plant species, of which 3013 are trees, representing 5-7{\%} of the estimated world's tropical tree flora. The central African forests have the highest endemism rate across Africa, with approximately 30{\%} of species being endemic. Conclusions: The botanical exploration of tropical Africa is far from complete, underlining the need for intensified inventories and digitization. We propose priority target areas for future sampling efforts, mainly focused on Tanzania, Atlantic Central Africa and West Africa. The observed number of tree species for African forests is smaller than those estimated from global tree data, suggesting that a significant number of species are yet to be discovered. Our data provide a solid basis for a more sustainable management and improved conservation of tropical Africa's unique flora, and is important for achieving Objective 1 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation 2011-2020. In turn, RAINBIO provides a solid basis for a more sustainable management and improved conservation of tropical Africa's unique flora.",
keywords = "Botanical exploration, Digitization, Floristic patterns, Herbarium specimens, Plant growth form, Species richness, Tropical forests",
author = "Sosef, {Marc S.M.} and Gilles Dauby and Anne Blach-Overgaard and {van der Burgt}, Xander and Lu{\'i}s Catarino and Theo Damen and Vincent Deblauwe and Steven Dessein and John Dransfield and Vincent Droissart and Duarte, {Maria Cristina} and Henry Engledow and Geoffrey Fadeur and Rui Figueira and Gereau, {Roy E.} and Hardy, {Olivier J.} and Harris, {David J.} and {de Heij}, Janneke and Steven Janssens and Yannick Klomberg and Ley, {Alexandra C.} and Mackinder, {Barbara A.} and Pierre Meerts and {van de Poel}, {Jeike L.} and Bonaventure Sonk{\'e} and Tariq St{\'e}vart and Piet Stoffelen and Svenning, {Jens Christian} and Pierre Sepulchre and Rainer Zaiss and Wieringa, {Jan J.} and Couvreur, {Thomas L.P.}",
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doi = "10.1186/s12915-017-0356-8",
language = "English",
volume = "15",
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Sosef, MSM, Dauby, G, Blach-Overgaard, A, van der Burgt, X, Catarino, L, Damen, T, Deblauwe, V, Dessein, S, Dransfield, J, Droissart, V, Duarte, MC, Engledow, H, Fadeur, G, Figueira, R, Gereau, RE, Hardy, OJ, Harris, DJ, de Heij, J, Janssens, S, Klomberg, Y, Ley, AC, Mackinder, BA, Meerts, P, van de Poel, JL, Sonké, B, Stévart, T, Stoffelen, P, Svenning, JC, Sepulchre, P, Zaiss, R, Wieringa, JJ & Couvreur, TLP 2017, 'Exploring the floristic diversity of tropical Africa', BMC Biology, vol. 15, no. 1, 15. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-017-0356-8

Exploring the floristic diversity of tropical Africa. / Sosef, Marc S.M.; Dauby, Gilles; Blach-Overgaard, Anne; van der Burgt, Xander; Catarino, Luís; Damen, Theo; Deblauwe, Vincent; Dessein, Steven; Dransfield, John; Droissart, Vincent; Duarte, Maria Cristina; Engledow, Henry; Fadeur, Geoffrey; Figueira, Rui; Gereau, Roy E.; Hardy, Olivier J.; Harris, David J.; de Heij, Janneke; Janssens, Steven; Klomberg, Yannick; Ley, Alexandra C.; Mackinder, Barbara A.; Meerts, Pierre; van de Poel, Jeike L.; Sonké, Bonaventure; Stévart, Tariq; Stoffelen, Piet; Svenning, Jens Christian; Sepulchre, Pierre; Zaiss, Rainer; Wieringa, Jan J.; Couvreur, Thomas L.P.

In: BMC Biology, Vol. 15, No. 1, 15, 2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Exploring the floristic diversity of tropical Africa

AU - Sosef, Marc S.M.

AU - Dauby, Gilles

AU - Blach-Overgaard, Anne

AU - van der Burgt, Xander

AU - Catarino, Luís

AU - Damen, Theo

AU - Deblauwe, Vincent

AU - Dessein, Steven

AU - Dransfield, John

AU - Droissart, Vincent

AU - Duarte, Maria Cristina

AU - Engledow, Henry

AU - Fadeur, Geoffrey

AU - Figueira, Rui

AU - Gereau, Roy E.

AU - Hardy, Olivier J.

AU - Harris, David J.

AU - de Heij, Janneke

AU - Janssens, Steven

AU - Klomberg, Yannick

AU - Ley, Alexandra C.

AU - Mackinder, Barbara A.

AU - Meerts, Pierre

AU - van de Poel, Jeike L.

AU - Sonké, Bonaventure

AU - Stévart, Tariq

AU - Stoffelen, Piet

AU - Svenning, Jens Christian

AU - Sepulchre, Pierre

AU - Zaiss, Rainer

AU - Wieringa, Jan J.

AU - Couvreur, Thomas L.P.

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - Background: Understanding the patterns of biodiversity distribution and what influences them is a fundamental pre-requisite for effective conservation and sustainable utilisation of biodiversity. Such knowledge is increasingly urgent as biodiversity responds to the ongoing effects of global climate change. Nowhere is this more acute than in species-rich tropical Africa, where so little is known about plant diversity and its distribution. In this paper, we use RAINBIO - one of the largest mega-databases of tropical African vascular plant species distributions ever compiled - to address questions about plant and growth form diversity across tropical Africa. Results: The filtered RAINBIO dataset contains 609,776 georeferenced records representing 22,577 species. Growth form data are recorded for 97% of all species. Records are well distributed, but heterogeneous across the continent. Overall, tropical Africa remains poorly sampled. When using sampling units (SU) of 0.5°, just 21 reach appropriate collection density and sampling completeness, and the average number of records per species per SU is only 1.84. Species richness (observed and estimated) and endemism figures per country are provided. Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Liberia appear as the botanically best-explored countries, but none are optimally explored. Forests in the region contain 15,387 vascular plant species, of which 3013 are trees, representing 5-7% of the estimated world's tropical tree flora. The central African forests have the highest endemism rate across Africa, with approximately 30% of species being endemic. Conclusions: The botanical exploration of tropical Africa is far from complete, underlining the need for intensified inventories and digitization. We propose priority target areas for future sampling efforts, mainly focused on Tanzania, Atlantic Central Africa and West Africa. The observed number of tree species for African forests is smaller than those estimated from global tree data, suggesting that a significant number of species are yet to be discovered. Our data provide a solid basis for a more sustainable management and improved conservation of tropical Africa's unique flora, and is important for achieving Objective 1 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation 2011-2020. In turn, RAINBIO provides a solid basis for a more sustainable management and improved conservation of tropical Africa's unique flora.

AB - Background: Understanding the patterns of biodiversity distribution and what influences them is a fundamental pre-requisite for effective conservation and sustainable utilisation of biodiversity. Such knowledge is increasingly urgent as biodiversity responds to the ongoing effects of global climate change. Nowhere is this more acute than in species-rich tropical Africa, where so little is known about plant diversity and its distribution. In this paper, we use RAINBIO - one of the largest mega-databases of tropical African vascular plant species distributions ever compiled - to address questions about plant and growth form diversity across tropical Africa. Results: The filtered RAINBIO dataset contains 609,776 georeferenced records representing 22,577 species. Growth form data are recorded for 97% of all species. Records are well distributed, but heterogeneous across the continent. Overall, tropical Africa remains poorly sampled. When using sampling units (SU) of 0.5°, just 21 reach appropriate collection density and sampling completeness, and the average number of records per species per SU is only 1.84. Species richness (observed and estimated) and endemism figures per country are provided. Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Liberia appear as the botanically best-explored countries, but none are optimally explored. Forests in the region contain 15,387 vascular plant species, of which 3013 are trees, representing 5-7% of the estimated world's tropical tree flora. The central African forests have the highest endemism rate across Africa, with approximately 30% of species being endemic. Conclusions: The botanical exploration of tropical Africa is far from complete, underlining the need for intensified inventories and digitization. We propose priority target areas for future sampling efforts, mainly focused on Tanzania, Atlantic Central Africa and West Africa. The observed number of tree species for African forests is smaller than those estimated from global tree data, suggesting that a significant number of species are yet to be discovered. Our data provide a solid basis for a more sustainable management and improved conservation of tropical Africa's unique flora, and is important for achieving Objective 1 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation 2011-2020. In turn, RAINBIO provides a solid basis for a more sustainable management and improved conservation of tropical Africa's unique flora.

KW - Botanical exploration

KW - Digitization

KW - Floristic patterns

KW - Herbarium specimens

KW - Plant growth form

KW - Species richness

KW - Tropical forests

UR - https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3714916

U2 - 10.1186/s12915-017-0356-8

DO - 10.1186/s12915-017-0356-8

M3 - Article

VL - 15

JO - BMC Biology

JF - BMC Biology

SN - 1741-7007

IS - 1

M1 - 15

ER -

Sosef MSM, Dauby G, Blach-Overgaard A, van der Burgt X, Catarino L, Damen T et al. Exploring the floristic diversity of tropical Africa. BMC Biology. 2017;15(1). 15. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-017-0356-8