Leiden University: New database reveals plants’ secret relationships with fungi. “Almost all vascular plants have a relationship with a fungus in their roots that allow them to obtain nutrients from the soil. This relationship, called mycorrhiza, is symbiotic, since the fungi too benefit from it. It is so important that most plant species would not be able survive without it. Until now, information on this symbiotic relationship has been scattered throughout myriad scientific publications.”
Mongabay: New assessment method finds close to one-third of tropical Africa’s plants are potentially facing extinction . “New research finds that nearly one-third — 31.7 percent — of tropical Africa’s vascular plant species might be at risk of going extinct. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species is the go-to resource for conservation status assessments, but while the majority of vertebrate species have been assessed, we know far less about the conservation status of plants, especially in the tropics.”
Computing: Kew Gardens plans to digitise and release Darwin’s data . “Kew Gardens is planning to implement an integrated collections management system to unify its disparate databases and make their data available to the world. Whilst most think of the sculpted gardens when they think of Kew, and as a plot of land which is home to over 30,000 trees that’s unsurprising, most are unaware that it’s also a centre of scientific research, and home to the world’s most extensive botanic collections.”
CBC: Research, photos of Manitoba tundra open to public. “An archive of photos and research of plants and animals in Manitoba’s tundra are now available online, providing public access to decades of Churchill, Man., history. Professors from York University in Toronto are in the town 1,000 kilometres north of Winnipeg this week to share the Churchill Community of Knowledge — a digital archive that more than 50 York University students have been putting together since 2011.”
Phys .org: Scientists use machine-learning algorithms to help automate plant studies. “Father of genetics Gregor Mendel spent years tediously observing and measuring pea plant traits by hand in the 1800s to uncover the basics of genetic inheritance. Today, botanists can track the traits, or phenotypes, of hundreds or thousands of plants much more quickly, with automated camera systems. Now, Salk researchers have helped speed up plant phenotyping even more, with machine-learning algorithms that teach a computer system to analyze three-dimensional shapes of the branches and leaves of a plant.”
Natural History of Ecological Restoration: Desert Trees of the World – A new database for ecological restoration. “Desert Trees of the World represents a multi-purpose, participatory database in which we have gathered a vast array of information about dryland trees, where and how they live, the communities they are part of, the many ways in which they are used by people, and some elements about their successful cultivation.”
Xinhua: China launches online database on camellia varieties. “The database has more than 45,000 names and 33,000 pictures of camellia varieties including ornamental, tea and oil species. Users can search the name of camellia varieties in different languages including English, Chinese and Japanese.” Unfortunately the story does not have a link to the database, which is here: http://camellia.iflora.cn/ .
Quartz: Pl@ntNet is the world’s best social network . “Pl@ntNet (pronounced plant-net) is the only social app that always makes me happier. Likened to Shazam for plants, it was developed a decade ago by a consortium of computer science and botanical research institutions in France. In almost every way, Pl@ntNet is unlike other social networks.”
The Island Connection: Town Of Kiawah Island Releases Grow Native Plant Database. “The database was designed to help promote the use of native plants on the island and serve as a resource for residents, landscapers, landscape architects, landscape designers, and other entities. This searchable database includes native trees, shrubs, perennials, vines, ferns, and grasses and allows users to filter and find plants based on a variety of criteria, including plant type, size, light requirements, soil requirements, flower color, salt tolerance, deer resistance, and more. There are currently 196 plants in the database, but the list will be expanded over time.” I know this is just for one city, but what an unbelievable project and great way to get residents to assist in addressing ecosystem conservation and development.
Indiana University: Indiana University Herbarium completes massive plant digitization project. “Indiana University has completed work to make publicly available its collection of more than 160,000 preserved plant specimens, including over 72,000 specimens representing Indiana flora.”
New Mexico State University: NMSU launches mobile-accessible web database of Navajo Nation rangeland plants. “The ‘Selected Plants of Navajo Rangelands’ website includes information about 198 Navajo rangeland plants. Plants are identified by both their English and Navajo names. They are also searchable by plant type, common name, scientific name, flower color, habitat, growing season or special concerns.”
University of Hawaii News: Century of plant data available through Lyon Arboretum interactive map. “A new geographic information system (GIS) device being employed at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Harold L. Lyon Arboretum allows users to locate plants on its property and view metadata gathered over 100 years. ‘This new interface opens up 100 years of Lyon’s collections history right onto your laptop,’ said Rakan Zahawi, Lyon Arboretum director. ‘It is a great tool for both researchers and avid plant enthusiasts, and we hope that it will get a lot of use.'”
Cornell: Botanical illustration pioneer goes from obscurity to online. “Dating back to 1826 and brimming with meticulous descriptions and vivid watercolor illustrations, Nancy Anne Kingsbury Wollstonecraft’s manuscript, ‘Specimens of the Plants and Fruits of the Island of Cuba,’ never saw print in her lifetime despite her attempts at publication. Nearly two centuries later, the lush life she captured can now be admired and downloaded from HathiTrust, where it was shared by Cornell University Library.”
Design Week: Redesigning the biggest list of endangered species in the world. “The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, an exhaustive online database of animals, plants and fungi that are at risk of extinction, has been given a new website in a bid to engage more people in conservation and make finding crucial information easier.”
The Local Denmark: Denmark’s plants and wildlife to get own website. “A new website entitled Danmarks Artsportal, to be launched in 2020, will provide nature enthusiasts with a guide to animals and plants in the Scandinavian country. The web portal, which will be produced by the Natural History Museum of Denmark and the Environmental Protection Agency, will collate public and private data on species of wildlife prevalent in Denmark, the Ministry for the Environment and Food announced in a press statement.”