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Large-Scale Syntheses

Within Kew there are many large over-arching projects that involve collating data for inventories and bibliographies, studying variation and relationships among plants, researching the underlying processes that generate plant diversity (such as evolution and development), and applying the results to a variety of scientific questions. The quality and scope of Kew’s collections and expertise allow documentation of a unique range of variation, from DNA and chemical to plant form and geographical distribution as a whole. Most projects involve international collaborators and focus on dissemination of information via the web, publications and repatriation of data to different stakeholders.

An objective of the team is to ensure that data and information obtained from the taxonomic and regional focus teams are collated and synthesised into the large over-arching projects. Members of this team are drawn from all science departments and most are involved in the activities of other teams. Outputs from these projects play a vital role in developing predictive classifications to guide future research and exploration of the plant kingdom. The team also promotes development of comparative research on fungal biology. These broad-scale activities provide an important baseline for documenting global plant and fungal diversity. Outputs such as global checklists and provisional conservation assessments are directly relevant to meeting the Targets of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) such as Target 1 (“A widely accessible working list of known plant species”). They also contribute to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger (Goal 1), combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (Goal 6) and ensure environmental sustainability (Goal 7) by 2015.