SynBioSys Fynbos - applying eco-informatics in vegetation and landscape management

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract

Abstract

The rapid developments in computer techniques and the increasing availability of large datasets have resulted in new perspectives for vegetation research, aiming at a better understanding of the ecology and functioning of ecosystems, underlying mechanisms and their setting in the landscape. Information systems prove to be a helpful tool in this new research field, called eco-informatics. Such information systems may integrate different biological levels: species, community and landscape. They incorporate a GIS platform for the visualization of the various layers of information, enabling the analysis of patterns which relate the individual levels. An example of such an information system is SynBioSys Fynbos, dealing with the biodiversity of the South African fynbos biome, one of the hottest hotspots in the world, comparable with tropical rainforests. This project was initiated by the Dutch Embassy in Pretoria, as the fynbos ecosystems are threatened by urban expansion, agricultural transformation, invasive species and climate change, among others. A small area gives room to more than 9,000 plant species, of which some 5,000 endemics. On the species level, ecological and distribution data of the South African National Biodiversity Institute are made available. So-called Turboveg databases form a basis for the community level and data from the recently published Vegetation map of South Africa, by Mucina and Rutherford, for the landscape level. With regard to the fynbos vegetation, more than 3,000 relevés from literature and personal archives have been brought together. In separate sections, multimedia and literature can be consulted. In close collaboration with the NGO's Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG) and Indigo Development & Change, a module has been developed on the ecology and sustainable harvesting of Wild rooibos (Aspalathus linearis), a well-known source for a South African herbal tea. The final version of this module was launched at a workshop in Cape Town last November.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication20th International Workshop of the European Vegetation Survey, A century of phytosociology & 20 years of the new spirit in phytosociology, rome, Italy, 6 - 9 april, 2011
Pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Event20th International Workshop of the European Vegetation Survey, A century of phytosociology & 20 years of the new spirit in phytosociology, Rome, Italy -
Duration: 6 Apr 20119 Apr 2011

Workshop

Workshop20th International Workshop of the European Vegetation Survey, A century of phytosociology & 20 years of the new spirit in phytosociology, Rome, Italy
Period6/04/119/04/11

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