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The Cutting Edge
Volume XXVIII, Number 2, April 2021
News and Notes |
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NEW DEVELOPMENTS AT THE MUSEO NACIONAL. The folks in the "Historia Natural" division of the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica have clearly not been idle during the pandemic. Rather, they have been hard at work developing and expanding biodiversity information services on their Web site:
In the case of the CR herbarium, the most significant product unveiled in recent months is the revamped collection database, which now includes all of the specimens previously admininstered by the now defunct INB herbarium, together with those of the original CR herbarium. This vitally important database, now with a total of 490,531 entries, can be accessed directly at:
The collection database is still a work in progress, and will eventually include an "Atlas de Biodiversidad" (enabling users to search on the basis of maps and their present locations) and an option to include type specimens.
The new Museo site includes many other features, highlighting animals as well as plants, that will be of interest to our readers. A section entitled "Ecosistemas" presents information on biodiversity, in selected groups (those with specialists at the Museo), for specific localities. At the moment, these localities are limited to Parque Nacional Cahuita and Isla del Coco. Another section, "Grupos Biológicos," presents all of the information that Museo specialists have been able to compile for particular groups of spp., though only the genus Passiflora is currently represented. Both of these sections are copiously illustrated, mostly with color photos (including all but one of 60 Passiflora spp.!), likely portraying numerous spp. never previously photographed. These two sections can be easily located via the main site referenced above or, more directly, at:
We thank Manual collaborators Armando Estrada (CR) and Alexánder Rodríguez (CR) for bringing us up to date on all of this. Armando and Alex are specialized on Passiflora (among other things), co-authored the Manual treatment of Passifloraceae, and are largely responsible for the aforementioned Passiflora page, which includes a "Clave Digital" (created using Lucid software) to the Passiflora spp. of Costa Rica. Most of us remember the flurry of excitement—some 20-plus years ago—trumpeting electronic keys as the way to go, to make keys really useful rather than just mnemonic devices for those who create them, and unfathomable mazes for others who try to use them. But in spite of electronic publication of new spp., revisions, and monographs now being standard fare, we don't see these multiple-entry, electronic keys being used regularly anywhere. Most of us are still using and creating the same kinds of keys that have been around for hundreds of years. The reason is clear: electronic keys take special software, both for building and publishing them, and are extremely tedious to create. In any case, Alex and Armando put their heads to the task, and the results look to be a fine piece of work. Grab a Passiflora and give it a try here:
The authors encourage usage of this key; indication of any errors or problems found, and suggestions for improvement, are welcomed, and will help to improve this and similar products going forward.
NOTA LUCTUOSA. We recently learned that former INBio bioprospection teammate Víctor Hugo Ramírez (principal or co-collector on over 4000 records on TROPICOS) passed on to other prospects on 15 January. Apparently, his demise was not related to the current pandemic. Those of us who knew him were, of course, surprised and saddened to hear this news. Víctor Hugo was an energetic and congenial field companion, a legendary master of "futbolín," and will be fondly remembered by all of us who were fortunate to have been in the field with him. He is commemorated by the epithet of at least one plant sp., Piper ramirezii Callejas (Piperaceae).