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  News from MO - 2001 Table of Contents  

Africa and Madagascar

MO's Africa and Madagascar programs are headed by Porter P. Lowry II from his base at Paris (P). Peter Goldblatt, the B. A. Krukoff Curator of African Botany, currently divides his time between the field, MO, and his home in Portland, Oregon. Roy Gereau, 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, and the temperate but unusually rich flora of southern Africa.

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 conducted an inventory of the Lopť-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 most recently visited Gabon to join Mike Fay (WCS) on part of his trek across Central Africa [webpage], and to accompany Lee White (WCS) in his survey of priority areas for biodiversity conservation. Gretchen Walters and John Stone, in collaboration with staff from LBV, have begun bioprospecting work iunder a contract with Sequoia Sciences, Inc., which will enable them to explore and collect throughout the country in the coming years.

The Garden's research and conservation activities in this biologically fascinating island are directed by Porter P. Lowry II. George E. Schatz serves as the project's research botanist based in St. Louis, and Christopher Birkinshaw, is the Gardenís resident Technical Advisor in Antananarivo. Schatzís modern guide to the genera of woody plants in Madagascar (Generic Tree Flora of Madagascar) will be published jointly by MO and K this Fall, providing an important new resource for students of the islandís flora that expands on the pioneering work of the eminent French forester Renť 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 appeared recently in the Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Schatz and Lowry have completed an NSF-funded project to computerize information on the approximately 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.

Gordon McPherson, along with Lowry and Schatz, received a three-year NSF grant to conduct a botanical inventory of selected remnant stands of Madagascarís highly threatened and species-rich east coast littoral forests. Schatz and Lowry, in collaboration with A.-E.Wolf and others at P, have completed taxonomic revisions of nine genera in Madagascarís endemic families (several more are now in preparation), providding the needed taxonomic framework for threat analyses of the ca. 100 species concerned. Field studies of several genera have been completed by Malagasy graduate students working under the direction of Birkinshaw. To date four have defended their DEA theses at the Universitť díAntananarivo, and two more are now completing their studies. 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. The next step will be to expand the analysis to include a representative sample of the entire flora, which will be used to define floristic regions and centers of endemism and to identify priority areas for plant conservation. Birkinshaw has now led three NGS-sponsored botanical expeditions to the isolated Tsaratanana massif, Madagascarís highest mountain; two more trips will take place in the coming months.

Johny Rabenantoandro, our full-time resident botanist in Madagascar, completed his DEA thesis, in which he assessed a series of one-hectare plots on the Masoala Peninsula in northeast Madagascar, one of the islandís richest rainforest areas. Richard Randrianaivo is responsible for natural product collecting for the National Cancer Institute, and has begun his DEA studies on the genus Mimusops (Sapotaceae). Birkinshaw and Fidy Ratovoson (a former DEA student) coordinate MOís participation in an International Cooperative Biodiversity Group project that involves bioprospecting in areas adjacent to the Zahamena reserve and will produce a florula of that protected area; they were just joined by Mamy Andrianjafy, who recently completed his DEA. W. D. Stevens, in collaboration with Jens Klackenberg (S), Sigrid Liede (University of Bayreuth), and Michael Gilbert (BM), has completed a treatment of Apocynaceae: Asclepiadoideae for the Flore de Madagascar, and James Miller has revised Boraginaceae, with both groups scheduled for publication in 2002. Gordon McPherson is revising three subfamilies of Euphorbiaceae (Phyllanthoideae, Acalyphoideae, and Euphorbioideae) for the Flore; Henk van der Werff is treating Lauraceae; Lowry is working on Araliaceae; and Schatz is revising Annonaceae, Brexiaceae, and several other groups. Millerís inventory of the Marojejy Massif is nearing completion, and Armand Randrianasolo, a post-doc and former Garden Ph.D. studeas finished a series of papers on Anacardiaceae. Sylvain Razafimandimbison defended his dissertation on Breonia and related genera (Rubiaceae), and is now a post-doc in Sweden (UPS). Research activities are conducted under collaborative agreements with TAN and TEF. The Gardenís office in Madagascar (B.P. 3391, Antananarivo 101) is overseen by our Permanent Representative, Christian Camara. Lalao Andriamahefarivo coordinates the Gardenís local research program, oversees a network of Malagasy local collectors trained under MO projects, and coordinates specimen processing. Data entry from field books and specimens at TAN and TEF is managed by Sylvie Andriambololonera and Jeannie Raharimampiona.

Financial support for the Gardenís Madagascar program is provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and LWO, Inc. The Gardenís activities in Madagascar are designed to increase collections from the countryís many underexplored areas, to contribute to conservation planning and implementation by identifying priority areas and highly threatened species, and to assist and train Malagasy scientists and students. Requests for plant material or additional information should be directed to Schatz at MO, or to Lowry at the Laboratoire de Phanťrogamie, Musťum National díHistoire 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.

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News from MO 2001 was created by Kathy Hurlbert, Leslie Miller, Eloise Cannady and Mary Merello (October 2001) and placed on the MOBOT webserver 1/22/02.


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