MSB Enhancement Project Part 1A: Species Targeting - COMPLETED (2008)
The Species Targeting Team (Part 1a of MSB Enhancement Project) was established to assist some partner countries of the Millennium Seed Bank project, in the targeting of species to be collected for seed conservation. Twelve partner countries involved in this project were Botswana, Burkina Faso, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mexico, Namibia, South Africa, and Tanzania.
The team utilised RBG Kew’s vast herbarium specimen and literature resources to collate the information necessary to prioritise species for conservation in the partner countries. For Madagascar, Burkina Faso and Mali, data were gathered from the herbarium in the Natural History Museum (MNHN) in Paris, where the flora from these countries was better represented. The data collected on each species were then compiled into collection guides designed to facilitate the collection of mature seed of these species in the field.
Information from herbarium specimens was extracted, databased and georeferenced. When available, these data were combined with specimen information provided by the partner country and species information taken from literature resources (including distribution, habitat and plant descriptions). The data were then subjected to geographical information systems and other analyses to provide i) recorded distributions and habitat descriptions; ii) species phenology patterns; iii) recommended localities for seed collection; and iv) preliminary assessments of extinction risk (based on geographical range measurements). In parallel with the data extraction from the labels, digital images of herbarium specimens were also created. Providing an image and a plant description based on recognisable field characteristics allowed partners to rapidly identify target species in the field.
The resulting collection guides were distributed to the collecting teams in each country and are currently used to plan seed collecting trips (Annex 2 shows an example of a species sheet taken from the Mt Mulanje Guide, Malawi). For a detailed description of guide production and use of predictive distributions in Mexico, see Annex 3.
Producing conservation assessments for the species was an important part of the Collection Guide process. The production of preliminary conservation assessments for each taxon enabled the species to be prioritised according to its threat of extinction – those with the highest threat were most likely to be included in the collection guides.
The initial targets for the three year project were to produce 14 Collection guides, based on databasing and assessing the conservation status of 5000 taxa.
The project was successfully completed in June 2008, after a year’s extension to the project, with further funding from the Millennium Commission. On completion, the project had surpassed all targets, with the Species Targeting Team and partners producing 38 Collection Guides for 12 countries.
Approximately 90,000 specimens were databased at Kew and the Natural History Museum in Paris (MNHN) and 6000 preliminary conservation assessments were produced, including 229 full assessments.
Training in various collection guide methodologies (including digitisation, georeferencing, GIS, Conservation Assessments, and guide compilation) were delivered to partners from 11 countries (Botswana, Jordan, Malawi, Mexico, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Mali and Namibia). Posters describing the work of the project were displayed at two international conferences, IBC (International Botanical Congress, 2005) and AETFAT (2007). The posters can be viewed in Annex 4 and 5, respectively.
Project partners and collaborators
National Herbarium and Botanic Garden (NHBG)
Veld Products Research and Development (VPR&D)
Botswana National Tree Seed Centre, Forestry Department
National Botanical Research Institute (NBRi)
Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI)
Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI)
Forestry Department (FD)
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS)
Forestry Research Institute of Malawi (FRIM)
National Research Council of Malawi (NRCM)
National Tree Seed Centre (NTSC)
National Herbarium and Botanical Garden (NHBG)
Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust
Botany Department, University of Dar es Salaam
Millennium Seed Bank Project
Annex 1: Table 1 showing the total number of Collection Guides produced and Table 2 showing a summary of database and Collection Guide Statistics per Country.
Annex 2: Figure showing an example of a species sheet taken from the Mt. Mulanje Collection Guide, Malawi (JPG image)
Annex 3: Elaboration of the field guide for seed collecting in the Sierras of Huautla and Taxco, Mexico (Word document)