Described 28 years post-collection, new grass species makes a strong case for conservation

  • July 6, 2018
  • Originally collected 28 years ago in Ecuador, new species Poa laegaardiana has been just described, only to find out its prospects for surviving in its type location seem bleak nowadays. The study was published in the open access journal PhytoKeys. When roaming in the Cordillera de los Andes of Ecuador, near the village of Facundo Vela, little did Smithsonian scientist and author, […]

    First-ever fern checklist for Togo to help decision makers in the face of threats to biodiversity

  • June 22, 2018
  • Ferns and their allied species, which together comprise the pteridophytes, are vascular non-flowering plants that reproduce via spores. Many of their species are admired for their aesthetics. However, despite being excellent bioindicators that allow for scientists and decision-makers to monitor the state of ecosystems in the face of climate change and global biodiversity crisis, these […]

    Audit finds biodiversity data aggregators ‘lose and confuse’ data

  • April 23, 2018
  • In an effort to improve the quality of biodiversity records, the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) use automated data processing to check individual data items. The records are provided to the ALA and GBIF by museums, herbaria and other biodiversity data sources. However, an independent analysis of such records reports that ALA […]

    Poison ivy an unlikely hero in warding off exotic invaders?

  • November 14, 2017
  • Dozens of studies have looked at the effects of Japanese knotweed on natural communities in Europe and North America. Yet Bucknell University professor Chris Martine still felt there was something important to learn about what the plant was doing along the river in his own backyard. “The more time I spent in the forests along the Susquehanna […]

    Artificial neural networks could power up curation of natural history collections

  • November 2, 2017
  • Deep learning techniques manage to differentiate between similar plant families with up to 99 percent accuracy, Smithsonian researchers reveal Millions, if not billions, of specimens reside in the world’s natural history collections, but most of these have not been carefully studied, or even looked at, in decades. While containing critical data for many scientific endeavors, […]

    Plants cheat too: A new species of fungus-parasitizing orchid

  • November 4, 2016
  • Plants usually produce their own nutrients by using sun energy, but not all of them. A new ‘cheater’ species of orchid from Japan, lives off nutrients obtained via a special kind of symbiosis with fungi. The study was published in the open access journal PhytoKeys. The new orchid species, named Lecanorchis tabugawaensis, is by far […]