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News From MO: 2000

Mesoamerica

Mesoamerica: The Flora Mesoamericana project is an international collaborative program organized by the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (MEXU), and the Natural History Museum (BM). U.S. participation in the project was funded by the National Science Foundation until early 1994. Cooperative planning and participation of Mesoamerican botanists are major features of the project. The Flora Mesoamericana, one of the largest synoptic Floras ever attempted, is being published in Spanish by U.N.A.M. in seven volumes and on the World Wide Web in a non-book format with individual pages for each Mesoamerican vascular plant name. These pages are linked to other names, descriptions, keys, illustrations, voucher specimens, maps, and other databases, as appropriate. A recent development on the project's Web pages is the addition of images of Mesoamerican plants, including type images. In addition to its richer content, the electronic version is updated as new data becomes available and, therefore, slowly becomes different from the printed volumes. See the Flora Mesoamericana home page for more details.

Fred Barrie [webpage], based at the Field Museum (F), works with the project as an associate editor and contributor. Robert L. Dressler [webpage], based at the University of Florida in Gainesville (FLAS), works on the largest family in the Flora, the Orchidaceae. Computerization of Mesoamerican floristic data by means of TROPICOS, began in 1989 and continues with the help of three volunteers, who specialize in the indicated areas of the database: Virginia G. Laschober (types, synonymy, distribution); John S. Skinner (nomenclature, types); Bruce Phillips (exsiccatae records). Last year volunteer Shirley Anton joined the project team to enter Mesoamerican exsiccatae records into the database.

In 1994 Volume 6 was published in Mexico City . This volume covers about 40% of the monocots, including Poaceae, Cyperaceae, Bromeliaceae, and most aquatic monocot families. Volume 1, dealing with the ferns and fern allies, was co-edited by Ramón Riba (UAMIZ) and Robbin Moran (University of Arkansas, Little Rock) and published in 1995. Manuscripts for Volume 4, treating 34 families of dicots, are still being received from contributors and are being edited and translated. However, completed treatments for the first eight of these dicot families were published on the web during the first half of 1999, with a number of others scheduled to follow later in the year. Gerrit Davidse [webpage], coeditor, directs the Garden's participation in this project and assisted by Jeany Davidse. In February 1999 Teri Bilsborrow joined the project as a data-entry specialist. She is systematically entering exsiccatae records from the herbarium as part of the effort to complete the computerized checklist of accepted species. The intent is to voucher each of the species records with at least one specimen for each country and Mexican state. Mario Sousa S. and Fernando Chiang (MEXU) and Sandra Knapp (BM), are the other co-editors for the Flora Mesoamericana.

Costa Rica: Barry Hammel [webpage] and Michael H. Grayum [webpage] coordinate MO's program in Costa Rica. Mary Merello [webpage] has taken over this year as project assistant at MO, and Carmen Ulloa [webpage] will begin to assist with scientific editing of Manual treatments late in 2000. The goals of this National Science Foundation-funded project are to collect in poorly known areas, computerize plant collection records, and prepare a Spanish-language field guide, the Manual to the Plants of Costa Rica. The project continues in close collaboration with the Herbario Nacional de Costa Rica (CR) of the Museo Nacional and with the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio). The offices of the project are currently located at INBio. Silvia Troyo continues working full-time on illustrations for the Manual, preparing at least one diagnostic, diagrammatic drawing per genus. Cecilia Herrera edits text and translations. Nelson Zamora, head of the Department of Botany at INBio, and Jorge Gómez-Laurito of the University of Costa Rica are important contacts and major collaborators in Costa Rica. Alfredo Cascante and Joaquín Sánchez of the Museo Nacional are collaborating as are all curators at INBio. Current online products of the Manual project, including a checklist with color images of most families and a specimen database with dot maps, a quarterly newsletter, a gazetteer, and sample treatments can be accessed through the MO World Wide Web server.

Nicaragua: The Flora de Nicaragua, by W. D. Stevens, Carmen Ulloa Ulloa, Amy Pool [webpage], and Olga Martha Montiel, editors, is complete and scheduled for publication by the end of 2000. The main objectives of the project are to inventory the previously poorly known flora and publish a written Flora of the country. The region is phytogeographically important as the southern limit of upland pine-oak forest and lowland pine savanna, and the northern limit of many South American taxa. Although the rate of endemism is quite low (less than 1%), there are interesting patterns of disjunctions from both north and south. The Flora will be published whole in three volumes in Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden. Covering 223 families and about 5,800 species of seed plants, it will be the first complete flora for a Latin American country written in Spanish. During the course of the Flora project, more than a quarter of a million specimens were collected from all regions of the country, doubling the number of known collections. Alba Luz Arbeláez [webpage] is assistant editor and Diane Cutaia is technical editor. Volunteers Tom Roberson and Bill Russell add Nicaragua specimen data to TROPICOS, and Diane Sauer has been adding images of plants to W³TROPICOS. Ricardo Rueda (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua-León) continues to collaborate with the Nicaragua project.

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