digression: biodiversity (hee hee hee)

Wed Apr 5 15:14:42 CDT 1995

I know the biodiversity thread frayed and broke a while back, but I
just couldn't resist sharing this.

Apparently, the whole problem of cataloging species has been
solved--for plants at least.  I received in the mail a brochure
advertising the


which...."aims to present a complete list of all plant species on
planet earth by their correct name."  (Note that we no longer have to
argue about what the correct names are; this has been determined)

"This database is compiled on the basis of many reviews, checklists,
floras and, occasionally, herbarium specimens."  (Only occasionally
herbaria?  And which checklists?)

"Every entry includes the correct plant name, its author and place of
publication, its distribution, frost hardiness, and life form." (The
distributions are terrific--'Europe' 'USA", etc.--very specific.  The
frost hardiness--hardy, half-hardy, or not hardy--sure is useful for
all the tropical species. )

The work is in 26 volumes, one for each letter, and each in 2 parts.
Part 1 includes the above info, part 2 lists all synonyms.   For
example, volume 1 covers genera starting with "A".  This comprises
"84,329 plant species and taxa of lower rank...All 1,279 genera...
41,474 species."  Part 2 of volume 1 contains synonyms.

The brochure suggests that the work would be useful for "determining
the conservation status of all existing plant species on earth..."

I am not making this up.  This is a for real work, with a for real
price of 260 Swiss francs per volume.  It is being done by a real
person working at one of the premier botanical gardens.

While I applaud all of the work which has obviously gone into this, I
must wonder at the claimed comprehensiveness--especially in light of
how we all know how much we *don't* know.

Monique Reed
Texas A&M University

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