News From MO: 2000
Africa and Madagascar
MO's Africa and Madagascar programs are headed by Porter P. Lowry II [webpage] from his base at Paris (P). Peter Goldblatt [webpage], the B. A. Krukoff Curator of African Botany, currently divides his time between the field, MO, and his new home in Portland, Oregon. Roy Gereau [webpage], with assistance from Sharon Bodine, processes labels and specimens from Africa. MO's collections from continental Africa are the largest in North America and now number almost 650,000, with more than 15,000 new specimens being accessioned each year. Over 10,000 duplicates are distributed annually, mostly to herbaria with special interests in the African flora. Botanists and institutions wishing to receive material for study should contact Roy Gereau [email]. African material from other institutions would be very welcome. The Garden's program focuses its efforts on the tropical floras and vegetation of Gabon, Madagascar, and Tanzania, with additional interest in Cameroon, Congo and Equatorial Guinea, among other countries.
Gabon: The Garden's collaboration with the Herbier National du Gabon (LBV), a branch of Gabon's Centre National de Recherche Scientifique et Technologique (CENAREST), has matured over the last decade. Gordon McPherson [webpage] initially conducted an inventory of the Lopé-Okanda Reserve, with support from the National Science Foundation, and a checklist will be published shortly along with several others in the Garden's Monographs in Systematic Botany series. It can currently be accessed at [http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/lope_int.shtml]. McPherson continues to visit Gabon regularly, most recently to join Mike Fay (WCS) on part of his trek across Central Africa [webpage], collecting in the remote southern part of the Lopé reserve, and to accompany Lee White (WCS) in his survey of priority areas for biodiversity conservation.
Madagascar: The Garden's research and conservation activities in this biologically fascinating island are directed by Porter P. Lowry II (see above). George E. Schatz [webpage] serves as the project's research botanist. Christopher Birkinshaw [webpage], after working for the last few years as our local instructor in Madagascar, recently joined MO's staff as Resident Botanist based in Antananarivo, where he will coordinate in-country activities. Schatz has now completed a modern guide to the genera of trees in Madagascar that will be published jointly by MO and K in the coming months, providing an important new resource. This project expands on the pioneering work of the eminent French forester René Capuron. The rediscovery of Takhtajania perrieri, the only Winteraceae in the Africa/Madagascar region, helped to demonstrate the continued need for botanical inventory in Madagascar. A series of papers on Takhtajania will appear in an upcoming issue of the Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Schatz and Lowry have completed an NSF-funded project to computerize information on the approximately 10,000-12,000 species of Malagasy plants, in collaboration with P, TAN, and TEF. With assistance from Sylvie Andriambololonera and Jeannie Raharimampiona in Madagascar and Kendra Sikes at MO, over 70,000 specimen records have now been captured, most of which are geo-referenced, making them useful for GIS analysis. Sikes continues to manage nomenclatural and specimen data and processes collections received from Madagascar, and along with Schatz, M. Lescot (P), and others, has compiled a comprehensive Gazetteer of plant collecting localities in Madagascar that will soon be available on the Web. Schatz and Lowry, in collaboration with A.-E. Wolf and others at P, have completed taxonomic revisions of eight genera in Madagascar's endemic families (several more are now in preparation), providing the needed taxonomic framework for threat analyses of the ca. 110 species concerned. Field studies of several genera have been completed by two Malagasy graduate students, Faly Randriantafika and Fidy Ratovoson, working under the direction of Birkinshaw. The students recently defended their DEA theses at the Université d'Antananarivo, and two more genera are now being examined by Mamy Andrianjafy and Yolande Razafindrakoto. Preliminary results of threat analyses for three families have already been published, and further work will lead to the production of a Red Data Book highlighting those groups that are of special conservation importance. Earlier this year Birkinshaw led the first of two NGS-sponsored botanical expeditions to the isolated Tsaratanana massif, Madagascar's highest mountain; a second trip will take place in the coming months. Johny Rabenantoandro, our full-time resident botanist in Madagascar, is completing his DEA thesis, in which he assesses a series of one-hectare plots on the Masoala Peninsula in northeast Madagascar, one of the island's richest rainforest areas. Richard Randrianaivo is responsible for natural product collecting for the National Cancer Institute. Birkinshaw and Ratovoson coordinate MO's participation in an International Cooperative Biodiversity Group project that involves bioprospecting in areas adjacent to the Zahamena reserve and will produce a florula of the protected area. Gordon McPherson (see above) is revising three subfamilies of Euphorbiaceae (Phyllanthoideae, Acalyphoideae, and Euphorbioideae) for the Flore de Madagascar; James Miller [webpage] is preparing a treatment of Boraginaceae and completing an inventory of the Marojejy Massif; W. D. Stevens, in collaboration with Jens Klackenberg (S), Sigrid Liede (University of Bayreuth), and Michael Gilbert (BM), is preparing a treatment of Asclepiadaceae; Henk van der Werff [webpage] is revising Lauraceae; Lowry is working on Araliaceae; Schatz is revising Annonaceae, Brexiaceae, and several other groups; Armand Randrianasolo [webpage] is completing a series of papers on Anacardiaceae. Graduate students studying Malagasy groups include Simon Malcomber, who successfully defended his thesis on Gaertnera (Rubiaceae) in August, and Sylvain Razafimandimbison, who will complete his dissertation on Breonia and related genera (Rubiaceae) before the end of 2000. Research activities are conducted under collaborative agreements with TAN and TEF. The Garden's office in Madagascar (B.P. 3391, Antananarivo 101) is overseen by Birkinshaw, with assistance from Christian Camara and other local staff. Lalao Andriamahefarivo oversees a network of Malagasy local collectors trained under MO projects and coordinates specimen processing and field book data entry. Financial support for the Garden's Madagascar project is provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation, LWO Inc., and the National Geographic Society. The Garden's activities in Madagascar are designed to increase collections from the country's many underexplored areas, to contribute to conservation planning and implementation, and to assist and train Malagasy scientists and students. Requests for plant material or additional information should be directed to George Schatz [email] at MO, or to Porter Lowry at the Laboratoire de Phanérogamie, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, 16 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France.
Tanzania: The three-year integrated training program run by MO, in collaboration with the National Herbarium of Tanzania (NHT), was completed this year, and plans are underway for continuing activities in Tanzania related to training and conservation. The training program, which included the development of a network of resident collectors throughout the country and in-service training for the country's botanists, was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur and the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundations and coordinated by Peter B. Phillipson (GRA), on leave to MO. Roy Gereau (see above) participated in the training activities, providing instruction in plant identification and field techniques. Gereau has completed his phytogeographic study of the Lake Nyasa Climatic Region, and an annotated checklist of the plants of the region is now ready for publication in a forthcoming volume of the Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden series. With D. Anthony Collins, Research Director at Gombe National Park, Gereau and Frank M. Mbago (DSM) will publish a floristic checklist of the Gombe National Park in the same volume of the Monographs series. This checklist is based on a vegetation survey of the park that they conducted as part of a long-term study of habitat utilization by chimpanzees and baboons, in collaboration with Anne Pusey and Craig Packer of the University of Minnesota.