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Paton, Alan

Job title: 

Assistant  Keeper, Herbarium, Library, Art & Archives Directorate

Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives
Biodiversity Information and Economic Botany
Joined Kew: 


Foreign languages: 


Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc (Hons), Univ. Edinburgh, 1986
  • PhD, Univ. Edinburgh, 1989.
  • Coordination Mechanism, Global Taxonomy Initiative of the CBD
  • Plants Conservation Committee, IUCN-SSC
  • Red List Commitee, IUCN
  • Editorial Board of Phytokeys
  • Fellow of the Linnean Society of London

Management of the Biodiversity Information and Economic Botany Section of the Herbarium; Lamiaceae research; implementation of Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC).

My principal role is to manage the staff of the Biodiversity Information and Economic Botany section and to seek ways of maximizing the impact of information held within the herbarium collection on conservation and sustainable use. This includes supervision of the following teams: Economic Botany Collection, Collections Management Unit, Herbarium Digitisation, GIS, World Checklists and the International Plant Names Index, Morphometrics and Identification Aids and input into Kew’s Science and Horticulture Systems project. From 2002-2010 I was responsible for liaising with the Secretariat of the CBD on progress on Target 1 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC -a widely accessible list of all known plant species) and I was part of the production team who produced The Plant List ( I also have an interest in developing preliminary conservation assessments (Target 2 GSPC) from specimen data. I have recently received a Grant from the Wellcome Trust for a 3.5 year project to develop ‘Plant name information services in support of medicinal and pharmaceutical research’.

My taxonomic research is centred on African and Asian Lamiaceae, writing accounts of the family for Flora of Thailand and Flora Zambesiaca. I also pursue monographic and phylogenetic research in tribe Ocimeae and have published several multidisciplinary papers on Ocimum (basil) and Plectranthus.

Selected publications: 

Paton, A. J. (2013). From Working List to Online Flora of All Known Plants—Looking Forward with Hind-sight. Annals of Missouri Botanical Garden 99: 206-213.

Victor, J. E., Smith G. F., Turland N. J., le Roux, M., Paton, A., Figueiredo, N. R. Crouch, van Wyk, A.E., Filer,D. & van Wyk. E. (2014). Creating an Online World Flora by 2020: a perspective from South Africa. Biodiversity and Conservation: 23: 251-263.

Paton, A.J., Bramley, G., Ryding, O., Polhill, R.M., Harvey, Y.B., Iwarsson, M., Willis, F, Phillipson, P.B., Balkwill, C.W., Oteino, D., & Harley, R.M. (2013). Lamiaceae. In: Flora Zambesiaca 8,8. 346 pp, ed. Timberlake, J. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Paton, A.J. & Nic Lughadha, E. (2011). The irresistible target meets the unachievable objective: what have 8 years of GSPC implementation taught us about target setting and achievable objectives? Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 166: 250–260

Paton, A. (2009). Biodiversity informatics and the plant conservation baseline. Trends in Plant Science 14: 629-637.