A global synthesis of species diversity in the angiosperm order Caryophyllales

Background. - Recent years have yielded a wealth of new informatics tools and infrastructures to facilitate the work with taxonomic data. We feel that this provides opportunities to stimulate plant systematics research. Monographic and synthetic work generates, manages and publishes high quality data as needed for a variety of applications. It is therefore imperative to further integrate formal monographic work and the ever raising number of phylogenetic and evolutionary studies. Improving the linkage between question-oriented research and formal treatments will also lead to improved appreciation of the full spectrum of these activities in the scientific community.
In this context we have discussed the potential of a monographic project on a model clade with several colleagues and institutions. As a result, we have started the initiative for the development of a “Global synthesis of species diversity in the angiosperm order Caryophyllales”. These ideas have been further developed in the article “An integrative and dynamic approach for monographing species-rich plant groups – Building the global synthesis of the angiosperm order Caryophyllales”.

The initiative. - The main goal of this initiative is to integrate the knowledge of Caryophyllales (e.g. taxonomic treatments, phylogenies and biogeographical information) into a global synthesis, in a continuous feedback system, accessible through an Internet portal. The Network is based on a collaborative approach of institutions and a network of individual researchers devoted to Caryophyllales. Major partners will function as focal points with a long term commitment that ensure sustainability of the initiative. At the moment the partnership consists of the Instituto de Biología UNAM (México) and the Instituto Darwinion (Argentina) in addition to the BGBM Berlin-Dahlem. In order to develop the initiative, BGBM sponsors a full time scientific coordinator’s position and provides the technical support.

Starting to work. - Our aim is to create a website that can serve as an information platform. We are currently gathering references and other source materials for Caryophyllales that are already present in electronic form, in order to make them available to the network. There is a fundamental need to generate an up to date taxonomic backbone as an essential part of the system, and as a first step we have assembled a backbone at the level of genera, which will serve to present the current state of knowledge. This has been published under the title “A taxonomic backbone for the global synthesis of species diversity in the angiosperm order Caryophyllales”. Building upon this generic level backbone will allow to effectively implement the next steps for a synopsis at species level.

How to join. - Please let us know if you would like to be involved in the development of our initiative. For your reply please use the address caryophyllales@bgbm.org. Looking forward to hearing from you.