Smithsonian Insider: See thousands of orchids in incredible detail in the Smithsonian’s newly digitized collection. “More than 8,000 living specimens in the Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection have been digitized and are now available to see and study from anywhere in the world. The Smithsonian’s Mass Digitization Program, in association with the National Collections Program, started photographing the plants in December 2017 and recently put the complete collection online.”
National Parks Conservation Association: Eliminating Species Act: Senate Legislation Threatens Wildlife and Wild Lands. “Senator John Barrasso hosted a hearing today in the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) on his draft Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018 legislation. The draft bill proposes to radically weaken the Endangered Species Act, which has been the nation’s most effective law protecting wildlife in danger of extinction. The legislation undermines reliance on best available science and reduces public involvement in the process of adding ESA protections to species. The more than 500 plant and animal species with habitat in our national parks are chronicled in a new online database, launched this week by National Parks Conservation Association.”
Times of Oman: Research centre collects data on over 7,000 species native to Oman. “The Oman Animal and Plant Genetic Resources Centre (OAPGRC) said it gathered data on at least 7,303 species native to Oman. The research body revealed the final number of species was actually higher and the numbers were still being collated…. The data collated by the organisation includes 1,400 Omani plant species, 2,600 animals, 2,500 marine species and 803 species of fungi and bacteria.”
Popular Science: Scientists want YOU to help them study amphibious lil plants. “Kalman Strauss is a 16-year-old high school sophomore in Chicago. He has been fascinated by bryophytes — eyelash-sized plants, such as mosses, liverworts, and hornworts — since he discovered them at age 12 while reading a botany textbook…. So he was ecstatic upon hearing he could become a citizen scientist for the Field Museum in Chicago and participate in an ongoing study focused on these tiny plants — specifically liverworts — to learn more about the impact of climate change. “
Earther: This New App Is Like Shazam for Your Nature Photos. “In July of 2016, thousands of people wandered out into streets and parks under the guidance of a hugely popular wildlife app. The app was Pokemon Go, and the wildlife did not, in any real sense, exist. Yet while Pokemon fans were attempting to collect fantastic—if ultimately digital—animals, some inevitably found real ones as well… if you wanted an app that would mimic Pokemon Go but for existing species, you were largely out of luck. That changed in early March, when social media site iNaturalist released SEEK, an iOS app for people who want to search out local flora and fauna. The new app is part of an ongoing attempt to tempt people into citizen science—and to get them to see the wonder in species they might otherwise ignore.”
The Hindu: A knowledge hub for medicinal plants. “The use of Indian medicinal plants for drug discovery and therapeutics just received a boost. A database of such plants has been built by a Chennai-based team led by Areejit Samal of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences. By documenting 1,742 Indian medicinal plants and 9,596 chemicals that plants use to thrive and ward off threats (phytochemicals), this database has the distinction of being the largest so far. This is a first step towards validating and developing traditional systems of medicine that use plant extracts.” I could not find the URL of the database in the article. IMPPAT is available here – https://cb.imsc.res.in/imppat/ .
Science Magazine: An integrated assessment of the vascular plant species of the Americas. “The cataloging of the vascular plants of the Americas has a centuries-long history, but it is only in recent decades that an overview of the entire flora has become possible. We present an integrated assessment of all known native species of vascular plants in the Americas. Twelve regional and national checklists, prepared over the past 25 years and including two large ongoing flora projects, were merged into a single list. Our publicly searchable checklist includes 124,993 species, 6227 genera, and 355 families, which correspond to 33% of the 383,671 vascular plant species known worldwide. In the past 25 years, the rate at which new species descriptions are added has averaged 744 annually for the Americas, and we can expect the total to reach about 150,000.”